Sheeran Shines at Warfield


Colleen OBrien, Lifestyle Editor

I had always liked Ed Sheeran. When my parents asked me to go along with my two younger sisters to one of his concerts at the Warfield on Feb 8, I was naturally excited.

After waiting in line for over 3 hours on a chilly day in a decidedly sketchy part of San Francisco, we elbowed our way through the general admission area only to end up shoved back against a wall. I was beginning to wonder if he could really be worth it.

Then the show began.

Ed Sheeran is unequivocally the most musically talented human being I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. His delivery is unlike any one else in the business. His relaxed stage presence is refreshing in a world of laser beams, glitter and back up dancers.

He walked unpretentiously on stage and did his thing, just him and his acoustic guitar and his loop microphone. He uses the loop mic to create layers of music, adding harmony onto harmony, beat onto beat, until he has created a band of one.

As he spun spellbinding tunes and poured forth divinely beautiful vocal harmonies, the audience remained rapt. Before Sheeran, I’d only ever been to 1 concert: One Direction. All my experience pointed to crying, squealing pre-teens. Thankfully, Sheeran and One Direction don’t share the same fan base, and the atmosphere was intimate, low-key, and most importantly, screaming-teeny-bopper free.

Sheeran held the Warfield’s 2 thousand some-odd visitors’ undivided attention for the full hour and a half that he was on stage. He easily tapped into the audience’s energy, involving them in singing some of the harmonies, clapping and dancing.

Sheeran also found favor with senior Melanie VandenBergh. “I thought Ed Sheeran did a great job,” she said. “He sang a lot of songs that aren’t on his CD that I’d never heard and he had audiences sing parts of the song for a lot of it and I thought that was really cool.”

However, even more miraculous was his ability to draw quietude from his fans. He was also able to induce absolute silence, which would seem utterly impossible with a crowd so large. When Sheeran asked everyone to be quiet, absolutely no one made a peep. A pin drop would have seemed a cacophony. Seriously. At one point, Sheeran even started singing a Capella, without a mic, and his voice rang loud and clear in the silent hall.

I think Sheeran owes much of his popularity and fan base to the fact that he is unpolished, raw, and straightforward. There is no pretentiousness or falseness in his stage presence, no aura of fame and success that so many seem to radiate.

Sheeran’s opening acts were also a huge highlight. First came Foy Vance, a charismatic, cheeky and loveable Irishman with a guitar. His style is reminiscent of Celtic folk songs but with a hard rock twist. As strange as that may sound, the audience loved him, and he certainly made an impression. Vandenbergh found Vance’s performance to be “amazing” and is now a huge fan.

Foy was followed by Rizzle Kicks, a British hip-hop duo consisting of Jordan “Rizzle” Stephens and Harley “Sylvester” Alexander-Sule. Appearing on stage in San Francisco Giant’s gear, they amped the audience’s energy with their fast-paced beats and contagious dance moves.

One of the biggest factors that made the experience memorable was the intimacy of the venue. Even at the very back of the General Admission, I was close to the action. I felt privileged to be able to experience such incredible music so close. You felt as though Sheeran were singing right into your soul.

After experiencing Sheeran firsthand, all I can think of is how I wish more artists were like him, and how much I want to see him perform live again. Even though Sheeran didn’t win a Grammy on Sunday, he did win himself a new hard-core fan.