If for no other reason, British folk-pop-buzz-boy Ed Sheeran deserves a handshake for coaxing a sold-out Bluebird full of screaming young girls to almost complete silence on at least two different occasions Friday night. Fortunately, Sheeran’s show had plenty of other reasons to be proud — his demure and intoxicating charm was just one part.
Sheeran played over an hour full of acoustic folk crossed with bouncing pop, along with some heavy tunes that yielded a few tears. Every song was a lesson in the 21st century one-man-band, as Sheeran sampled his voice, then guitar bits, and then sang and played over them, braiding together beautiful melodic tapestries.
His humble, boy-next-door personality — beaming beneath a shock of red hair — was underlined by his smooth British accent, and belied his mature talent. “Give Me Love” ushered in a fitting mood and immediately silenced the giddy kids (but not for long). A testament to the power of YouTube, every person in the lower part of the theater knew every word to every song.
The rest of the set was highlighted by the tragic “The A Team,” and an inspiring cover of “Wayfaring Stranger,” before which Sheeran asked for silence and got it (though there were a few moments where he simply, patiently stood onstage, a junior high teacher waiting for class to shut up). Once the house was silent, he made the wait worth it.
Sheeran is using his fame to help promote some up-and-coming solo artists: Passenger (Mike Rosenberg) and Belgian chanteuse Selah Sue. Both of these singer-songwriters delivered strong acoustic sets before Sheeran’s. Passenger channeled Cat Stevens while Selah Sue came across almost as an acoustic Sade, and both were well accepted.