But at the
You read that correctly. The singer-songwriter-rapper, beat-boxer and redhead best known for his Grammy nominated song “The A-Team” and for his work with
What's more, Sheeran instructed them to download all the Nina Simone records they could find, then jumped into a thrilling version of her "Be My Husband." During a crowd-participatory moment within his encore, he quickly and wittily ran through the plotline of "West Side Story" before dividing the hall into Jets and Sharks. Their response? Panties, bras and stuffed animals rained down on Sheeran throughout the night.
Sheeran is quickly becoming a sensation -- he's already huge in England -- but that stands to reason. Though young on paper, the singer started self-releasing records while in his mid-teens, delivering clever songs that straddled folk and hip-hop, banged out on a little acoustic guitar and a digital loop maker that allows him to layer his voice and build instrumental rhythms as he's performing. Since then, he's danced among worlds while building a fanbase and perfecting his performances.
Supremely self-assured, funny, smart, with a ringing, pitch-perfect tone and a rich voice, Sheeran owned the
The crowd took this assignment to heart, and so did Sheeran, who conducted the 7,000-plus fans in singalongs with supreme confidence. There was no question that he was in charge; he ran the concert as if he were the most awesome counselor at a summer camp.
That Sheeran has won the affections of the prettier gender stands to reason: His lyrics are mostly focused on understanding women and his desire for them, which he describes in lyrics that paint him as a bad boy with a good heart, open and honest. "I'll pick your feet off the ground, and I'll never let you down," he sang on "Grade 8." "My eyes are a river filler/This drink is a liver killer."
Our young hero has yet to fully mature as a lyricist, though. The song features cliched lines about staying warm during cold nights and offering to keep a lover "sheltered from the storm that's raging on." More convincing -- and beloved -- was "The A Team," a minor-key lyrical tragedy about a crack-addicted prostitute.
It’s tempting enough to dismiss Sheeran. He’s young, cute and has written hits for Brit boy band
But based on his performance at the Nokia, Sheeran feels to me like a lifetime artist, a musician so obviously born to perform and entertain that his promise seems boundless. Yes, he’s still finding his voice as a lyricist, but so was a young
No, that's not to compare Sheeran's debut to that of the Boss, even if the potential is similar. Like Springsteen, when he walks onstage for a show, Sheeran on Sunday commanded attention from the start and earned it triumphantly.
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit