This past weekend, my friends and I reunited for the perfect concert to start the summer—Ed Sheeran. Supported by fellow up-and-coming Brits, Rixton, Ed put on a spectacular show on a picture-perfect evening in Canandaigua, New York.
Rixton, an energetic pop band from England, did a pretty good job of bringing the crowd’s attention to the stage. Led by vocalist Jake Roche, who was clearly having a good time, Rixton managed to get people up and dancing throughout the venue. Roche was beyond excited to be performing, and his energy and dance moves swiftly swept through the crowd. Rixton was most obviously just thankful to be part of Ed’s show, demonstrated perfectly by one of their favorite songs, “Appreciate.” They played a fun set, reminding me a great deal of The Script early in their career.
The highlight for Rixton had to be the culmination with their hit, “Me and My Broken Heart,” which sealed the deal that it was show time. It was a great segue, and within minutes Ed had appeared on stage, “I’m A Mess” suddenly underway, the crowd going crazy. Instantly we were captivated, and it is just so obvious how talented the singer-songwriter is. Though it can throw you when he changes up a track—making it faster or slower, adding riffs and mash-ups a la Pitch Perfect (but better)—that is exactly what makes Ed so talented. It’s also a major reason why he appeals to so many people musically.
Early in the set Ed played a beautiful rendition of “Lego House,” but it was unfortunately clear that the crowd was not as ready as it seemed. He invited us to sing out some of the lyrics and the crowd participation was strangely weak. It was disappointing, but didn’t hinder Ed any, and as the night went on the resurgence of the crowd was eminent.
One mash-up that was particularly effective and well done began with the catchy yet lyrically harsh, “Don’t,” brilliantly combined with Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” and fading into Ed’s hit, “Nina.” Every little movement through the medley got the crowd hyped anew, and Ed was able to keep what should have been just one song going for quite some time.
“Drunk” is one of my favorite Ed songs, and his performance blew me away. With every chord you could tell how alive he is in the music, and his work on the loop pedal is unbelievable. It shows that he has more than just the musical and lyrical talent of an artist; he has this masterful mechanical, production side that only makes his music better. Crowd participation also increased significantly by this time, as well, making one of my favorites even better.
“Photograph” was heartbreaking and beautiful, as it should be. The graphics on screen seemed to blend with the words and the melody, just as the night settled in and we were left with Ed to light the stage. “Thinking Out Loud” was also a tearjerker, for obvious reasons. And if the song wasn’t enough, montaged footage from the music video of Ed ballroom dancing certainly set hands to hearts.
“Bloodstream” also stood out for having some amazing live effects. Though not one of my favorite tracks, the experience and spectacle of this song live deserved to be appreciated.
About halfway through the night, Ed paused, saying he wanted to change things up. He had just completed a mash-up featuring a Stevie Wonder song, and explained how he recently had the opportunity to play at a Stevie Wonder tribute concert. He said he loved playing that, and that he just didn’t feel ready to stop playing the song he had learned for it. So, he decided on the spot to insert said song into his set list, only further showcasing his passion and talent.
Around this time we were also graced with the presence of an excited fan on stage. One minute she just ran up and introduced herself to Ed, resulting in a little good-humored confusion from Ed and the crowd, a selfie for proof, and quite the story.
“The A Team” was an experience in itself. Clearly one of the most well known of Ed’s songs, the crowd really responded to those first few notes. When Ed asked that everyone with a cell phone turn on their lights and wave them in the air, it was like something I had never seen before. Now well into the night, the dark sky immediately lit up, as every hand shot up to sway their lights above them. It was mesmerizing what all of those lights could do together, and the entire venue just seemed to match the aura of the song—it was incredible.
Finishing out his official set, Ed began “Give Me Love,” and if the crowd hadn’t been alive earlier, now we were nothing but. Another major hit, this song was the favorite of the night, offering a bittersweet ending.
Of course, Ed is not one to leave without an encore, or two. Upon coming back out, Ed launched into a long and masterfully involved version of “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” Literally spitting the words out, the only thing we could keep up with was the singer’s energy. That song is always an unbelievable performance, and I think Ed has a ton of fun doing it.
As his final goodnight, Ed busted out “Sing,” his upbeat, need-to-dance-to single. The crowd ate it up and Ed was able to bring us together to create an awesome harmony with the “oh ohs.”
As always with Ed, it was such a fun, lively night. He naturally hits on all of your emotions: making you want to dance, sing, cry, love, and simply stare in amazement at what he can accomplish with just his voice and a guitar. If you have never seen Ed Sheeran, you need to add it to your bucket list. As it is, I am already anxious to see him again!