After listening to his album, I kept questioning myself on why I was going to see him. Alas, I found myself stood in the sticky hot venue on a Sunday night, with an excited buzz around the place.
Ed Sheeran walks onto Oxford Academy’s larger stage just a few minutes late with nothing but himself and trusty acoustic guitar and launches into ‘Grade 8’ and adds a twist of a rap, which he is known for when doing songs live. “That’s your night over with then” quips my friend, excited to hear what song he has next to play whilst I replied with “nah, there’s always You Need Me…” and a nod of the head. Sheeran gives us a lesson on loop peddles before launching into ‘This City.’ Originally thinking that perhaps the stage is too small for Sheeran on his own, I was sorely mistaken. Sheeran is more than happy to talk between songs and give the audience more reason to fall in love with his cheeky cuteness, probably more so than before, and of course fill the stage with his presence. He used no fancy lighting, instead for opting for an orange colour to match his hair.
Sheeran’s setlist included ‘Homeless’ a song that featured on his self released EP, Loose Change, which the crowd sang back when he constructed us to sound like ‘a gospel choir.’ Followed by a song for an unborn baby, Small Bump, which i didn’t particularly like on his debut album ‘+’, but I nonetheless enjoyed live. Something i found myself doing for the most part of his set. It’s during his cover of Jamie Woon’s cover of ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ that it hits me what an amazing singer, and live performer Ed Sheeran is. Using loop peddles to create harmonies for songs and occasionally beatboxing proved that he, indeed, ‘don’t need you.’
He goes on to perform his collaboration with Devlin which again, shows another skill of his when he raps so fast no-one can make out what he’s really saying. Sheeran ends perhaps the most anticipated song of the entire night – The A-Team. And perhaps rightly so. Half way through the song he brings out Mikall Pane who descends into the thought-provoking rap that made the collaboration version, Little Lady, even that more sad. May I suggest not listening to this version if The A Team creates a lump in your throat and your eyes water.
Wise to the way in which shows work, when Ed walks off it’s clear he’s going to come back on; and indeed he does. Already having played for an hour and a half or so, half the crowd appear weary, glancing at their watches every so often, whilst others appear wide eyed at what the ginger lad has in store for everyone next. He treats us all to three more songs, including a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Sheeran ends on newest single ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ which the crowd happily ‘raps’ along to, and even when he launches into the SB.TV’s version, featuring Laid Blak’s ‘Red’ and 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club,’ it doesn’t deter the crowd. Getting the crowd directly involved for the last time tonight he splits us into Team Red and Team Blue and gets half to sing “you need me” and the other half “my eyes are red.” Sheeran eventually heads back to the song itself, rapping the final verse and letting us shout taboo line of “like I’m fucking in an elevator.”
Even if you didn’t fully appreciate Ed Sheeran’s album, he is well worth seeing live.