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The shape of fandom: Ed Sheeran kicks off North American tour at Sprint Center

Ed Sheeran fans sing their favorite songs before his Sprint Center show

We asked Ed Sheeran fans to sing their favorite Sheeran songs before he kicked off his North American "Divide" tour.
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We asked Ed Sheeran fans to sing their favorite Sheeran songs before he kicked off his North American "Divide" tour.

Fifteen-year-old Lucy Narrell cowered under a jacket with her friend as fat rain drops briefly fell on her head. She had been leaning against the same barricade outside the Sprint Center loading dock since 11 a.m., hoping to catch a glimpse of her favorite singer, Ed Sheeran.

Narrell and her mother, who live in Joplin, woke up around 6 a.m. to make the four-hour journey to Kansas City. This is her second Ed Sheeran concert, first seeing him in Tulsa, Okla., where she also waited outside for hours without seeing the ginger-headed star.

“I am not going to give up,” Narrell said as she walked into the Sprint Center. “I am going to try to see him after the show if it’s not raining.”

The British singer-songwriter kicked off his 2017 North American tour on June 29 at the Sprint Center. Doors opened around 6 p.m. and a small crowd of about 100 lined up before the concert.

Sheeran is touring to promote his latest album, “Divide.” It’s his third studio album, released March 3. His first two albums have sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S. and 10 million worldwide.

Alaric Scates, 17, a resident of St. Joseph, said he wants to have the same kind of success one day. A singer-songwriter himself, Scates recently tried out for “The Voice” in St. Louis.

He was nervous getting on the stage to perform, but was confident in his song choice: Sheeran’s hit “Perfect.”

He didn’t make the cut, but plans to try out for the comeback season of “American Idol” this summer in either Miami or Las Vegas.

Liberty resident Kelley Rowe, 23, danced with her half-sister under a scrolling digital screen on the side of the Sprint Center that proclaimed, in bold white letters, “Ed Sheeran Tonight.”

“I can’t wait to hear ‘Supermarket Teacup,’” Rowe said. “I really relate to the lyrics, and it’s nice to feel a connection with someone that has gone through something similar.”

When Rowe was 15, her mother died from Atherosclerosis. Sheeran’s song chronicles the days after his grandmother’s death, exploring the process of trying to pick up the pieces after losing a loved one.

The lyrics “I threw the day-old tea from the cup,” stand out most in Rowe’s mind as she remembers trying to sort through her mother’s things after her death.

The last time Ed Sheeran performed in Kansas City was in June 2015, when he opened for the Rolling Stones at Arrowhead Stadium.

Katt Schulte, 45, of Olathe, was there but didn’t get to see any of the show. She was working backstage and could only hear muffled noises.

Schulte did get to meet Sheeran’s parents, however, and describes them as “genuine” and “full of energy.” She didn’t want to miss hearing her “favorite ginger” a second time, so she came to the concert solo.

About 20 people got to go to Sheeran’s meet and greet before the concert. Nancy Bean and her daughter Kayla Bean were two of the lucky fans that got to hug and snap photos with the pop star.

They won the experience through a local radio show contest, but didn’t know they had won until 6 a.m. this morning.

“I was so nervous, but he’s so down to earth and you could tell he wanted to spend more time with us,” Kayla said. “It was absolutely incredible.”

Jacob Gedetsis: 816-234-4416, @jacobgedetsis