Photos of Ed Sheeran at the 1stBank Center - Reverb

Ed Sheeran at the 1stBank Center, 01/05/13 (photos, review)

When Ed Sheeran began to play “The A Team” at 1stBank Center on Tuesday night, the UK phenom wasn’t just wrapping up a dreamy set, he was closing the largest U.S. arena show of his career. It was a significant milestone, considering that four months ago he played the smaller Bluebird Theater. This step up in drawing power was matched easily by the voracity of beatlemania screams throughout the set.

That response was perfectly indicative of Sheeran’s rise in popularity over the past few years. On tour continuously since mid 2011, he’s moved beyond buzz status into the realm of solid pop star – in a well deserved progression.

From the opening thrust of “Give Me Love” through brilliant pop machinations in “U.N.I,” “Drunk” and “Grade 8,” Sheeran owned the audience – completely alone and nearly dwarfed by the stage. With glowing charisma, he tamed the screaming teen crowd with “shooshes” and gentle, shaming methods to convince hecklers to listen. He followed with a moving rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger” from the same realm as Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” Still in quiet mode, he followed on with the tragic “Small Bump,” and then ushered in a rousing cover of Nina Simone’s “Be My Husband.”

Sheeran may be buzzworthy, but this show proved his talents are solid, backed with keen musical knowledge. While sampling and looping his tunes, he folded in bits of Clapton’s ubiquitous “Layla” riff and Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” on top of folky hip hop. This showed that he’s not only an amalgamation of his pop history, but a blooming rock shaman.

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Billy Thieme is a Denver-based writer, an old-school punk and a huge follower of Denver’s vibrant local music scene. Follow Billy’s explorations at DenverThread.com, and his giglist at Gigbot.

Shannon Shumaker is a Denver photographer and huge follower of the Colorado music scene. You can find more of her work on Facebook.

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