Last night Brit rocker Ed Sheeran took to the Music Hall of Williamsburg to celebrate the release of his album, +, and it’s No. 1 spot on the iTunes chart. (At the time of this post Usher’s Looking 4 Myself had bumped him to No. 2.) I was on there last night, and my ears are still ringing from the hundreds of screaming girls swooning over Sheeran’s stellar performance. (Okay, I was swooning too.)
Sheeran’s opening act, Anna Krantz, quickly won over the crowd—myself included—with her piano-driven ballads. The highlight was her performance of her latest single, “Rubble and the Dust.” (Coincidentally, Ed Sheeran pops up in the video for the song.) But the real high note for Krantz was concluding her set with a cover of fun.’s “We Are Young” – that’s one way to ensure every person in the Music Hall will sing along. The London-born Krantz doesn’t yet have her own album, but announced plans to release an EP by summer’s end. After the show, she garnered more fans and Twitter followers as she passed out free downloads of “Rubble and the Dust,” signed autographs, and took pictures with the crowd.
While Krantz was certainly an appealing appetizer (seriously, check her out), Ed Sheeran’s main-course performance totally delivered. I’ve been a fan of his for a while but never had the opportunity to see him live, and I had no idea one man could have such a commanding stage presence. Sheeran played 15 songs, most of which were from +, and sang with the Gospel Choir of Williamsburg (or so he dubbed them, though I can’t find an internet presence under that name). Throughout the night, Sheeran requested that the crowd provide harmonies and lyrics, creating a full-on participatory experience. He even got those less-than-enthused fans to join in: “This is not The X Factor. Scream!”
Perhaps the most appealing part of Sheeran’s live performance was his use of the looping station. (I’ve seen these used before, but never so extensively.) He hushed the crowd several times so he could build the track on the spot with beats, harmonies, and anything else he saw fit to loop before singing the actual song. Consider me impressed.
The 21-year-old Sheeren even catered to the NYC crowd by diving into a verse and chorus of “Empire State of Mind” at the end of “This City.” And not to be outdone by himself, he sang an unplugged version of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and later sang 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” which he is often wont to incorporate into his own “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” Yes, this guy sings 50 Cent, possibly proving the point that he can do just about anything.