“The way this game is gonna work is, at the end of the night, we have no voices from singing too much.”
A smile plastered on his 24-year-old face, copper-haired Brit Ed Sheeran was offering a sold-out Verizon Theatre some helpful suggestions Thursday, but they had the whole losing-their-minds thing well in hand.
The second stop on the current leg of his mammoth world tour supporting his latest studio album, X (he’s already scheduled for a return trip to Frisco Sept. 5 at Toyota Stadium), Sheeran’s roughly two-hour set was equal parts fascinating, mystifying and impressive.
Armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a Loop Station pedal, the singer-songwriter held sway with an ease more often glimpsed in veteran rock stars.
In the space of just two albums and four years, Sheeran has leveraged social media savvy, some high profile friendships and his aw-shucks charm into the 21st century version of pop superstardom — the overwhelmingly female contingent of fans often seemed torn between snapping selfies with him in the background, or belting his lyrics back at him (most just chose to do both simultaneously).
It would be easy to dismiss Sheeran as nothing more than a lightweight flavor of the moment, albeit one able to play both theaters and arenas on the same tour.
But watching him build his rhythmic foundations — popping the wood of his acoustic guitar; a quick flick of fingers across strings; a few ghostly harmonies — is to understand how he bridges a gap between hip-hop and pop, collapsing autobiography and influence, and fitting in with a generation less concerned with genre boundaries and more fixated on the feeling.
And oh boy, does Sheeran offer up pathos.
Whether it’s his current smash hit, Thinking Out Loud, or Bloodstream, or I’m a Mess, or Don’t, the singer-songwriter has a way of framing love that’s all-consuming. (And given the lyrics of songs like the gorgeous Tenerife Sea — “You look so wonderful in your dress/I love your hair like that” — it’s fair to say Sheeran is probably an aspirational figure of lust for more than a few young ladies screaming in his direction.)
Alone, on a stage adorned only with video screens, busily splattered with visuals from start to finish, Sheeran’s affable confidence — he relayed a story about first coming to America, and being confronted with a skeptical program director at a radio station visit: “Why do we need you?” the man asked — illuminates what is tough to discern from simply hearing his songs in heavy rotation.
Ed Sheeran’s charisma may not be immediately apparent, but spend a couple hours amid his vociferous fans, and its effect is undeniable.
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713