Minute Maid Park
November 3, 2018
About halfway through his performance at Minute Maid Park Saturday night, Ed Sheeran stopped his show to thank the two percent.
He has a theory, he told the crowd of approximately 40,000, that about 98 percent of the people who come to see him perform are genuinely excited to be there. The other two percent is made up of disinterested boyfriends and "super dads."
Disinterested boyfriends reluctantly join their partners, and their primary concern is avoiding anyone they might know. Super dads, on the other hand, are the men who have been tasked with taking their kids to a concert. They're the ones checking football scores on their phones, grumbling to themselves about the price of beer and wondering, "When's this guy going to play 'Perfect' so we can get out of here already?"
For those people, Sheeran had a message: "You're giving up a night of your life to do something for someone you love, so thank you."
Disinterested boyfriends and super dads notwithstanding, there were plenty of people in attendance of their own volition Saturday night, and for good reason. Even if his music is a little too bland for some, Sheeran's raw talent is undeniable. The 27-year-old English singer/songwriter is a true performer, and his charms were on display for almost two hours at a nearly sold-out Minute Maid Park. Even more impressively, the young man was onstage all by himself.
The Grammy Award-winning artist was aided only by a microphone, a guitar and a loop pedal. There was no backing band, no backup singers and nothing to distract fans from the red-headed megastar, who sang beautifully and regaled the crowd with quite a few anecdotes about himself throughout the evening.
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Beginning his set with "Castle on the Hill," Sheeran sang of his upbringing, of country roads and of friends he has lost touch with since he left to pursue a career in music. Despite a few somber bits, the tune came across an uplifting ode to his hometown.
Shortly afterward, he performed "The A Team," one of his earliest hits. A harrowing tale of homelessness sung over a gentle guitar, its melody belied its dark lyrics about a drug-addicted prostitute. Later, Sheeran did a cover of "Feeling Good" that would give Michael Bublé a run for his money. The rest of his set was peppered with hits and deeper cuts from his three studio albums, all three of which have been certified quadruple platinum in the United States.
Few 20-somethings could have commanded a stage the way Sheeran did Saturday night, especially considering how much of the show he was controlling himself. But much like he has done since he burst onto the scene in 2011, he proved his critics wrong, his fans right and he did it all with a broad smile on his face.
Before "Don't," Sheeran told the crowd that, despite his stardom, he's a bit of an awkward concertgoer. He usually stands dumbstruck, barely nodding his head and singing along under his breath as everyone around him jumps around. He implored his fans to be better than him, to dance and sing as best they could.
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"Tonight, we're going to dance until we sweat, and we're going to sing until we lose our voices," he said to a roar of applause. "Houston, are you with me?"
And about 98 percent of the crowd was.
Castle on the Hill
The A Team
I See Fire
Thinking Out Loud
Shape of You
You Need Me I Don't Need You