There was a surprisingly quiet crowd gathered at Penn’s Landing on Sept. 23 and it was all for British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. Sheeran, a native of Suffolk, England, is an up and coming artist who has written songs for the popular boy band One Direction and performed at this year’s Olympic Closing Ceremonies, where he sang Pink Floyd’s famous song, “Wish You Were Here.” The ginger-haired singer played not with a band, but with his acoustic guitar, for a sold-out crowd at the River Stage at Great Plaza as a part of VH1’s You Outta Know Tour.
The show started relatively early; Sheeran started his 11-song set list a little before 8 p.m. Sheeran performed songs from his debut album “+,” as well as his multiple EPs. He also performed two cover songs. He performed the first cover with both of his opening acts, Selah Sue and Passenger. The other cover was Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband.”
Sheeran entertained the crowd with his stories between songs. He talked about life in Suffolk, meeting his opening act Passenger, and the backstory of “Kiss Me.” “Kiss Me,” a song about two friends falling in love, is about Sheeran’s godparents. They asked Sheeran to write and perform a song at their wedding.
This heartwarming story was slightly short lived because Sheeran noticed a girl in the pit section who had fainted. Sheeran waited until the girl received medical attention and even asked the audience to sit tight while he made sure the girl was all right. Fortunately, she was. Unfortunately, part of the set was compromised by fireworks across the Delaware River, but Sheeran rallied through it and treated his audience to an additional song.
During his performance, Sheeran asked an odd favor from a concert audience. He asked for silence during multiple songs because he wanted the audience to get the “intimate” feeling of his songs, including “Kiss Me.” He also performed “The Parting Gift,” a traditional folk song, partly without the use of a microphone during his encore. The crowd of mostly teenagers stood silent with the appearance of awe on their faces. Sheeran also asked members of the crowd to refrain from singing along to a few songs so they could hear the raw emotion in his voice and get a full feel for the song.
The up and coming musician gave his own taste of Philly to the audience. Before one song, Sheeran explained one of his tour traditions: if he has the time, he tries to get a tattoo in every city in which tours. In this case, he got a tattoo of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” logo on his arm. Additionally, during his first encore song, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You,” Sheeran switched up the music to rap the theme to “Fresh Prince,” which threw the crowd into a frenzy of rapping and filled the audience with Philadelphia pride.
Sheeran finished the lively show with a more popular song, “The A-Team,” but unfortunately could not stay and meet fans because the performance was in a residential area.
Currently, Sheeran is finishing up the VH1 tour and recently announced his own North American headlining tour for the winter. Unfortunately for local fans, Sheeran did not announce a date for the Philadelphia area. If you are interested in hearing his music, make sure to pick up or download Sheeran’s debut album “+.”
Victoria Holt is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a journalism minor. She can be reached at VH758202@wcupa.edu.