LIVE: Ed Sheeran @ the Times Union Center, 5/13/15
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
It was the fastest sell-out in the 25-year history of Albany’s downtown arena. And when British popster Ed Sheeran stepped out on the stage of the Times Union Center on Wednesday evening (May 13), the roar of the predominately young female fans who snapped up the tickets told the whole story.
Opening with “I’m a Mess,” the ginger-haired 24-year-old singer-songwriter performed with confidence and a casual, audience-friendly attitude as he melded his pop style with a decided hip-hop edge. And he did it all by himself – no band, no pre-recorded backing tracks and other than a wall of video screens, no stage set of any kind. It was just a guy, his guitar and his looping station.
And as it turned out, that was all that he needed. It takes a special kind of solo performer to captivate a sold-out crowd in a hockey rink, but Sheeran did just that, playing his hits (including his brand new single, “Photograph”) as well as album tracks, along the way dropping in bits ‘n’ pieces of cover tunes that ranged from Bill Withers to Iggy Azalea, from Stevie Wonder to 50 Cent.
But, of course, Sheeran wasn’t really all by himself. He had plenty of vocal support from the fans in the jam-packed arena, who sang along with enthusiasm and abandon, at times even seemingly louder than Sheeran’s vocal that was pumped through the big sound system.
The Texas songsmith (now living in New York City) Ben Kweller – whose previous Nippertown appearances were at MASS MoCA (2009) and Woodstock’s Bearsville Theater (2010) – went the solo route, too, armed only with his acoustic guitar and some occasional harmonica honkin.’ More straight up folk-oriented than Sheeran, Kweller none-the-less impressed.
James Shahen’s review at The Times Union
Excerpt from David Singer’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Strumming an acoustic guitar, singing, and managing his multi-pedaled loop station with help from no one, he kept the energy high and genuine. He opened and closed the show with his hip-hop based tunes, sandwiching in the middle his straight pop and love songs. Occasionally he put down his guitar and hopped around the stage bringing his British street fire, which, at its dirtiest, was clean, positive and encouraging. He moved through most of his big songs quickly — like ‘Lego House’ as the second song — saying little between tunes, charming the audience of predominantly-teen girls with short snippets of his English accent.”
UPCOMING: Sheeran will perform his hit single, “Bloodstream,” on the Billboard Music Awards from Las Vegas, airing on ABC-TV at 8pm on Sunday (May 17). Sheeran is also nominated in five categories – Top Male Artist, Top Billboard 200 Artist, Top Radio Songs Artist, Top Digital Songs Artist and Top Billboard 200 Album.