Ed Sheeran delighted fans at his first show back in New York since his year-long break — and I had a front row seat
Ed Sheeran is finally back.
The superstar, 25, delighted fans Monday night at a secret show in New York City hosted by Sirius XM and I had a front row seat to his Big Apple comeback. Now, I’m a huge Sheeran fan and once flew from Orlando to New York just to catch him play his first show at Madison Square Garden. I’ve been following him from the very pre-Taylor Swift beginning of his career, but nothing could’ve prepared me for the talent I was about to witness.
Not having played in the city since disappearing for a year to take some time off, Sheeran looked thrilled to be back on stage in front of an intimate crowd to rip through tracks from his new album Divide and play some of his biggest hits.
The crooner got the show started with a rousing rendition of “Castle on the Hill” as he used his loop pedal to build up the song — making fans feel like they’re getting a peak behind the curtain at his process. The use of a loop pedal instead of a backing band is easily one of the coolest parts about his shows. It’s refreshing to see an artist on stage by himself and get the intimate feel of watching him build intricate beats and melodies with nothing but his guitar and his voice.
After his latest hit, Sheeran took fans on a trip down memory lane by performing “The A Team” — the song that brought him to New York for the first time. In typical Sheeran fashion, the singer jokingly apologized to the crowd for the fact that the song is the first one that automatically plays whenever an iPhone gets plugged in due to its name. It’s the typical self-deprecating humor that Sheeran has made his claim to fame on — and the fans loved it.
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But the best part of the night came once the singer finished up playing a brilliant mashup of his 2014 hit “Don’t” and “New Man,” a track off his new album. After seamlessly blending the two upbeat tracks together, Sheeran started on Multiply‘s “I’m a Mess” before confessing that he wasn’t feeling the sound on the stage.
That’s when he surprised the crowd — and the radio crew recording the show for a later broadcast — by asking his team to put a chair in the middle of the venue so he could do an acoustic set.
Acoustic sets are where Sheeran shines — and I was thrilled when I saw a chair materialize out of nowhere and end up right in front of me. It was a superfan’s dream come true to watch from two feet away as Sheeran belted out some of his most emotional songs.
And the respect his fans have for him was in full display. Though the crowd most ranged from girls in their teenage years to mid-twenties, they were immediately silent when Sheeran asked that they not sing during his performance so everyone could hear. It was chilling being in a crowd of 200-plus people all tuned in to one person spinning around in a chair strumming an unplugged guitar.
During the set, Sheeran performed four of his most personal songs — an acoustic version of “I’m a Mess,” a heartbreaking rendition of “Supermarket Flowers,” the swoon-worthy “Perfect” and the deeply personal and self-deprecating “Eraser.”
It’s no surprise that he chose some of the most harrowing tunes on Divide for the most intimate part of the night. Sheeran thrives off packing personal details into his melodic lyrics that give fans a glimpse into his personal life — but it’s not all for the best. “During Eraser”, the singer added a freestyle verse in the middle where he talked about his biggest wishes and regrets in life. Though he rapped about how happy he was with his girlfriend Cherry Seaborn, the singer lamented about their lack of privacy as he said he wished his private life had never gone public.
After the intimate set, the singer hopped back on stage where he apologized to the Sirius team and admitted that he forgot they were recording the show for broadcast, making the songs that he performed in the middle of the crowd unusable. But he immediately made up for it as he performed his biggest hits “Thinking Out Loud” and “Shape of You” before closing out with the new tune “What Do I Know.”
It was a performance meant for his biggest fans and Sheeran looked genuinely thrilled hearing the crowd singing along to songs that had come out just days before. Near the end, he remarked how it was nice to be back playing the small crowds he got his start with before finding mainstream success and graduating to stadiums.
And the fans were just as happy to have him back, too.