Justin Bieber has his "Beliebers," One Direction have "1Dfamily," and Ed Sheeran has his "Sheerios." To a crowd mostly of Sheerios out too late on a school night, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran and his "aw-shucks" personality took a walk onto the stage with just his acoustic guitar.
Let me explain: When you are a teenager, you are trying to figure out who you are. Ed's music, angsty songs about breakups and love songs, can fill a bedroom on a late night. Since he is a singer-songwriter who backs it up with an amazing voice, loops that can help fill the room, and an ability to beat-box at a rapid pace, the music has more of an edge than a lot of other options in the pop world.[jump]
The young performer -- a mere 23-year-old -- has a charm that makes up for anything he might lack. The young girls were ready to cheer for anything he said, even if it was just, "Hello, Minneapolis." Ed's not the first artist to use loops as his backing band, but don't tell that to anyone in the audience. On tracks like "Tenerife Sea," he uses loops to create a backing choir, harmonizing with himself and if you closed your eyes, you would believe that there were two other people on stage with him.
When he was not singing about love, he was rapping about it, as in "Take It Back" with his English accent that added another level of allure. On "Don't," his latest hit about a girl cheating on him, Sheeran did a remix folding in "Loyal" and Blackstreet's "No Diggity." There was also a taste of the Backstreet Boys when he looped in his version of "Everybody" at the end of "Runaway."
While he can hold the room in the palm of his hand on his fast tracks, his slower love songs are where he excels. He added a few tracks that he hadn't played before to include "Kiss Me" and "The Man" on this tour -- something that easily done when you don't have to deal with a backing band. You can just create a scenario in your head of Sheeran getting mad at his band in the practice studio and firing them all, then pondering to himself, "Hey, I can do arenas by myself!" On "The Man," Ed invited the Sheerios to give their vocal cords a rest by a collective shushing of the audience, teasingly chastising anyone who screamed out while he was explaining the premise of the track. He did stop eight bars into the song to chuckle and dedicate the track to a young man who yelled out a loving sentiment during a quiet part of the show.
The audience had not had enough when he came to "I See Fire," which starts quiet and deceivingly builds into an anthemic song that filled the deepest corner of the Target Center. Knowing that the kids had to get home, he barely walked off the stage between his set and encore, coming back for a jam session with "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" and his first hit, "The A Team," before sending people out with "Sing."
Critic's bias: Back in late 2012, Sheeran was in St. Paul for KDWB's Jingle Ball, and I had predicted that we would be saying, "Ed Sheeran who?" in two years. How wrong I was. So did Sheeran change my mind about him? No, but I do have to concede that his career has legs that will extend beyond his current singles. I admittedly was a bit bored by his fifth song about love, and ended up almost falling asleep during his encore. The music industry is fickle, so there's still time for him to wear out his welcome.
The crowd: Mostly young girls with a few guys and some chaperoning parents.
Overheard in the crowd: "Caribou Coffee has the best pumpkin spice lattes."
I'm a Mess
Take It Back
Runaway/Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
Thinking Out Loud
Give Me Love
I See Fire
You Need Me, I Don't Need You
The A Team