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Ed Sheeran goes shoeless at Amalie Arena

Ed+Sheeran+performs+at+Amalie+Arena
Ed Sheeran performs at Amalie Arena

Ed Sheeran performs at Amalie Arena

Carissa Costello/Staff

Carissa Costello/Staff

Ed Sheeran performs at Amalie Arena

Carissa Costello, Staff

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Ed Sheeran still appears like a pub singer: slightly disheveled, donned blue jeans, a guitar, and absent of a live band. But that is only if one could forget the thousands of screaming fans spanning as far as the eye could see. Solo, the red-haired performer equipped with an acoustic guitar and loop pedal, commanded the audience of a sold-out arena.

Around 15,000 people packed Tampa’s Amalie Arena, Aug. 29, for Sheeran’s North American tour. All awaiting the beloved British singer and his record-breaking tracks off  his third album “Divide”. As one of the biggest male pop stars in the world, fans could see what makes him undeniably so; his lively, heartfelt songs and sincere, unpretentious attitude.

Sheeran opens with his nostalgic hit “Castle on the Hill.” The song is an exultant foot stomping sing-a-long about returning home to his Suffolk roots. He then delights the audience with the dark but moving track “The A Team.” During the song, camera phones illuminate the darkness as fans sing loud enough to nearly render Sheeran inaudible. Sheeran uses a loop pedal that allows him to record himself or his guitar and play it back continuously to create a complete sound. Using this technique, he skillfully fuses rhythmic song “Don’t” and the witty “New Man” with a three-part vocal harmony and several guitar parts.

 As he performs, 20 enormous screens tower behind him displaying scenes of rose petals and beaches while he croons the quintessential ballads “Thinking Out Loud” and “Perfect.” He serenades a girl during “Perfect” who is lifting an illuminated sign declaring, “You look perfect tonight,” causing an even reluctant boyfriends to be in awe at his gesture.

During the set, Sheeran addresses the audience displaying a sheepish grin, “So, I got given these shoes and they are the most uncomfortable f***ing pair of shoes I’ve ever had in my life. So much so, does anyone want to take them?”

He is referring to a designer pair of shoes that were given him to wear on the Video Music Awards red carpet two days earlier. Loud cries of excitement permeate as he chucks them into the audience. The singer slides into worn-looking skate shoes. Then he jokingly, advises the new owners to use the shoes as drink holders.

Sheeran adds, “So, I regularly get voted worst dressed at things, but my answer to it is, I wear sneakers, jeans and T-shirts all the time. I am looking out here and all I see in this room is sneakers, jeans and T-shirts, so either they’re right, and we are all badly dressed, or they’re wrong and we are all dressed normally. I’d like to think that we are right, Tampa. Right?” Right. Unabashedly normal, he has no issues charming a crowd which sings loudly and uninhibited to every song.

Sheeran surprises fans by singing poignant and emotional, “Give Me Love” for the first time since 2013 provoking hysterics from the crowd, but amid hopelessly romantic acoustic ballads are more rhythmic and catchy tunes.

He reappears at the encore with the sexualized tropical house inspired track “Shape of You.” Ending the night, he sports a Tampa Bay Lightning Jersey to “You Need Me I Don’t Need You.” Stage lights flash in a visual frenzy as he bounces around the stage rapping and jumping up on the sound systems.

Another lucky fan receives an article of clothing as Sheeran tosses his jersey into the front rows. His deftly layered voices, guitar, and beats reach its finale and the arena erupts in a deafening cheer. Ed Sheeran had only one favor to ask the crowd, for everyone to lose his or her voices by the end of the show. The favor appears to have been granted.

 

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Ed Sheeran goes shoeless at Amalie Arena