At the young age of 20, Ed Sheeran has accomplished quite a bit. He’s been releasing music independently and touring since 2005. His big break came back in April, when BBC Radio 1 featured his single ‘The A Team’ as their record of the week. A signing to Atlantic Records followed, along with a full UK tour. When ‘The A Team’ was eventually released in June, it shot straight to No 3 in the singles chart and has remained there for over two months.
Which brings us to a hot, sweaty night in one of York’s most ‘unique’ venues, the bat-cave-inspired Duchess.
After a stonking support set from Irish acoustic act Kal Lavelle, Ed took the stage to deafening screams. This was not your average gig showcasing an up and coming star- his fan following is already well-established and legendary. When Ed performed at Camden Barfly in April 2011, so many people turned up that he ended up playing four different shows to make sure everyone saw him, including one on the street outside after the venue closed.
One of the most interesting things about Ed Sheeran is that he doesn’t actually bring anything unique to the table….what’s unique is the way he does it. To the untrained eye, Ed might look like your average singer/songwriter with a guitar…but he demonstrated complete mastery of the loop pedal, creating backing tracks on the fly in a mesmerising way.
He weaves in and out of singing beautiful ballads into ‘Barenaked Ladies’-style choppy vocals, and towards the end of the gig, a roof-raising MC performance of his new single ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.’
Lyrically too, Ed is way ahead of his peers. Those years on the road have resulted in a set of mature, smart lyrics. From semi-autobiographical tales of young love with ‘UNI’:
“You and I, ended over U-N-I.”
Through to ‘Small Bump’, which tells the heartbreaking story of a miscarried pregnancy.
“Cos you were just a small bump, unborn for 4 months then torn away from life,
and maybe you were needed up there but we’re still unaware as why.”
The biggest crowd buzz of the evening came during the encore, where Ed went loop-pedal crazy, downed his guitar, and flew straight into MC-mode, culminating with the brilliant:
“Melody music maker, reading all the papers,
They say I’m up and coming like I’m fucking in an elevator.”