music

REVIEW: Ed Sheeran in concert

REVIEW: Ed Sheeran in concert

A couple of years ago, I heard a song by a new artist out of England named Ed Sheeran.  That song was Lego House, and I was instantly hooked.  I love a good singer/songwriter and after delving into his album I really loved his style.  He plays acoustic guitar, can sing wonderfully and can really flow with his lyrics if he wants to.  So much so that a couple of his songs can even be considered hip/hop in nature.

When I was getting into the album, I brought my wife out onto the deck one late night and made her slow dance with me to the song “Kiss Me.”  That got my wife listening.  A little later I introduced my eldest daughter to some songs and she fell completely in love with Ed.

She has his poster on the wall, can recite every lyric at will, wanted to play guitar because of him, and even learned “I See Fire,” Ed’s song from the Hobbit soundtrack, to play in her band.

Because the other three of us in the house listened so much, the youngest jumped on board as well.  And even though she’s not AS big of a fan as the rest of us, she still really likes what he does.

Anyway, long story short, last April tickets went on sale for Ed to play here in Chicago.  I ponied up the money for the whole family to go.  This was going to be the first arena concert for the girls.  We never told the girls we were going, we simply drove to the venue a couple nights ago and surprised them.  It was awesome to see their reaction.

We were second level but near the front and could see directly down on the stage, so they were good seats.  There wasn’t THAT much to see however, as Ed did the entire show without any stage setup or backing band.

That’s right, it was him, some floor monitors, two microphones, his looping equipment and a steady stream of acoustic guitars.  He had ONE roadie, his guitar tech who would bring him a new guitar pretty much every song.

Okay, so how does one pull this off?  Standing alone to a packed arena, with only an acoustic guitar?  Well simply, the man is pretty much a genius.  He uses looping pedals to record various bits of the song in real time.  So guitar riffs, percussion (by banging on the guitar and strings) and harmony background vocals (sometimes 4 part.)

So what happens, is that for every song, he’s the producer and all of the music as well as the singer and guitarist.  And he does it so deftly that it’s hard to believe how well it comes off.  And in some songs he creates a wall of sound so powerful that he can simply lay down the guitar, stand on monitor and belt out the lead vocals.


He had some large displays behind him that would show artwork, or pictures, or camera angles of him singing, and there were a couple lights, but there wasn’t much else.  No giant laser show, no pyro, no giant stage to run around.  It was just him, and he held the audience in the palm of his hand for an hour and 45 minutes.

Besides that being an amazing feat in and of itself, I started thinking about it.   He didn’t have to pay a band.  He didn’t have to pay a huge bunch of roadies.  He didn’t have to buy all the staging equipment.  At $60 or more a ticket, he is making a TON of money on this tour.  From a business perspective, being able to pull this off, a one man show in sold-out arenas, is just incredible.  It shows just how talented he is.

We bought my eldest a sweatshirt ($65 by the way) from the tour and it had his birthplace and EST. 1991.  Yup, the kid was born in 1991 and is 23 damn years old.  TO be that talented and savvy at that age is incredible.  I think we’ll be hearing from him for a very long time to come.

If you have a chance to see him, do, you won’t regret it.

The Power of Music

Last weekend, my family and I went to a little wine bar in town. It was open mic night, and a couple of my daughter’s friends were going to perform. We went and watched as the girls each performed, and then continued to hang out to see several different sets of people take the stage and do their own thing.

Some of the people did original songs, some did covers, there were even some really good instrumental guitar from a couple of the guests. The music ranged from pop, to punk, to flamenco, to classic rock, but the cool thing was that everyone was supportive, and really had a good time listening to all of the different types of music.

My eldest daughter has been taking guitar lessons for around the last six months. She has never wanted to play AND sing before. But after hanging out and seeing the live music, she immediately started learning some songs at home and singing along. It inspired her to want to perform. It helped her get past that feeling that she couldn’t do it. She was excited about the music, and excited to practice and get better.

My youngest has been teaching herself to play some piano (with a little help from my wife) and has also been taking some voice lessons. Well she immediately asked the wife to get her sheet music to “Lean On Me” so she could learn to play it and sing along as well. Seems she really liked what she saw too.

Hell, even I got the itch to perform again. A couple of the other Dad’s play guitar, so I might try to con them into playing something I could sing along to. Watching everyone perform really made me want to be creative again. I’ve started looking at old song lyrics and poetry, and wondering what I could do with it nowadays. That joy and adrenaline rush you can get from performing is like no other, and who knows, maybe I’ll experience it again soon.

No matter what though, I’m really thankful to have a great local venue that is welcoming to musicians. Good live music is something that inspires everyone, and it’s so cool to have something like that in my hometown. It makes me want to be creative again, and that includes coming back here to write. Let’s hope it becomes a trend.