Singer-songwriter and recent “Game of Thrones” guest star Ed Sheeran brought a taste of England to Tulsa, OK, in August 2017 and we loved it.
During the last month of a blazing summer, the heavily tattooed 26-year-old Grammy winner performed at the Tulsa BOK Center on one of many stops for his “Divide” (also read “÷”) tour. The singer, who was recently forced to cancel his St. Louis show due to ongoing protests, performed to a packed house.
The night began with a fantastic performance by opener James Blunt. Blunt, also from England, became a hit in the US during the early 2000s. “You’re Beautiful” is perhaps one of his most easily recognized works. Blunt, who maintained a delightful sense of humor, performed the song toward the end of the set, then cheekily remarked that a majority of the audience was no doubt conceived to that very song.
I suspect he was right. There were many young faces in the crowd, and it took a few songs for the audience to become lively. When they did, Blunt and his band gave back that same energy. After taking a crowd selfie while standing on top of his piano, Blunt turned the stage over to the main event, which was something wonderfully unexpected for anyone who had not seen Sheeran perform live.
Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Sheeran took the stage alone with two microphones, his guitar, some sound equipment and a grin on his face. In his greeting, he explained that he’d experienced some vocal difficulties and his voice had just come back to him, much to his relief and ours as well.
The songs performed included the “Shape of You,” “Sing,” “Galway Girl,” “Castle on A Hill” and “Don’t.” Every song was accompanied by an entire chorus of fans singing along, which made for an electric atmosphere. The most striking thing about Sheeran’s performance was the undeniable honesty of it. With only one of four guitars changing hands, two mics and loop pedals, Sheeran put on a performance that was somehow massive and intimate at the same time. There was no showboating. If nothing else, Sheeran looked as comfortable on stage as one might be singing in front of the bathroom mirror at home. It was fascinating to see how genuinely excited he was to perform for the audience at the BOK.
The audience ranged from screaming teenage fangirls to adults who were there just to enjoy the music. No one was disappointed. The closing song was a high-energy remix of the song “You need me, I don’t need you.” It can be argued that the fiery hit from Sheeran’s 2011 album entitled “+” (also read “Plus”) was what first captured the hearts and attention of audiences. Six years later and the song still carries the same punch. Though some may not appreciate Sheeran’s talent as a rapper, it was impossible not to be blown away as he torched the stage.
The “Divide” tour is, without a doubt, a show worth seeing for longtime fans and newcomers alike. Sheeran’s music appeals to listeners of all ages and easily hops right over boundaries between genre and style. One can only hope that when he isn’t winning hearts and blowing away audiences (and making it cool to be a ginger), Sheeran will keep finding new ways to bring soulful music to life.
(Images courtesy of author: Flickr)