Ed Sheeran came to Tampa just two days after winning the Video Music Award’s “Artist of the Year” and breaking Billboard’s Hot 100 Top 10 chart with a staggering 33 weeks on the chart with “Shape of You”. Yet, the 26 year-old Sheeran came to the stage in his typical fashion statement of t-shirt and jeans.
The Amalie Arena was completely sold out with an audience of mostly teens and millennials and some baby boomers, Sheeran clearly has a mixed fan base as a singer/songwriter. The stage was a state of the art concoction of lights, graphics, strobes, Ed and his array of pedals and guitars. Sheeran is a one-man band.
He opened the show with “Castle on the Hill” his debut single from the “Divide” album, a story about Sheeran’s teenage years. He rapped on his second song “Eraser” which had him beat boxing on the guitar and jumping on the speakers to the delight of the girls in the front row! He appears comfortable talking to a crowd of 18,000, yet there is a bit of a shy and humble artist which makes him so likeable.
His breakout song “A-Team” which put him on the map back in 2011, had Sheeran asking the audience to light up their cellphones which gave a tribute feeling to the serious lyrics of the song. Effects of strobe lights and graphics took over a setlist of new and old tunes from both “Multiply” and “Divide”. He held off playing his megahit “Shape of You” till the end of the show. The video has over two BILLION views on YouTube.
Opening for Sheeran was his friend James Blunt. Blunt happened on to the scene in 2005 with his played every five minutes on the radio song “You’re Beautiful”. He is touring with a new album “The Afterlove”. Blunt has a four piece band unlike Sheeran who goes it alone. Blunt said he has no problem opening for “the biggest male music star in the world right now”! Blunt hasn’t been as popular in the U.S. since his big hit but he is still a huge star in Europe. A side note, for his first album “Back to Bedlam” Blunt was a tenant in Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher’s house and recorded “Goodbye My Lover” in her bathroom.
For those who missed the Tampa show, Sheeran is making a stop in Orlando at the Amway Center on Thursday! I am sure there are some who are going to both shows and I don’t blame them! Sheeran is a musical force of his generation.
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / Rock the Lens Photography