The world’s most popular one-man band serenaded more than 51,000 admirers at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday.
Ed Sheeran, an unconventional pop star born in England in 1991, performed for an hour and 45 minutes without the assistance of another musician.
The unassuming artist filtered his voice and guitars through a set of devices that he called a loop station to add lush textures to 19 sentimental songs.
Unabashed romanticism and a knack for sumptuous melodies have endeared the troubadour to millions of fans who share his often sappy sensibility. Sheeran’s unthreatening songs make him as cuddly as a kitten and as comforting as a teddy bear.
Sheeran boosted his nice-guy persona by relating self-deprecating anecdotes and frequently flashing his winning smile. He knowingly grinned while singing “it’s too cold outside” during “The A Team,” the wrenching character study of a drug-addled prostitute that introduced him to the pop audience in 2011.
The chilly conditions didn’t cool the enthusiasm of fans who heartily sang along to most selections. Sheeran demonstrated his absolute authority by insisting on silence before a hushed interpretation of “Tenerife Sea.” Aside from a handful of people who interrupted the stillness to blurt “I love you,” everyone complied.
Sheeran transformed the expanse of Arrowhead Stadium into the intimate atmosphere of a cozy pub during an enchanting rendition of “I See Fire,” his contribution to the soundtrack of the 2013 film “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
The feat was particularly impressive because images of a dragon wreaking havoc flashed on screens behind him as he delivered the song. The ineffectiveness of the video was welcome. Compared to the monumental production that enhanced Taylor Swift’s concert at Arrowhead Stadium in September, Sheeran’s stage set resembled an oversized kiosk at a shopping mall.
Sweet songs like “Perfect,” an ode to a lifelong romance, and the nostalgic remembrance of childhood “Castle on the Hill” don’t require extraneous flash.
And as Sheeran repeatedly noted, the audience supplied the most compelling action. They danced to the impish jig “Nancy Mulligan” and mimicked his endearingly awkward rapping on “Eraser.” When prompted by Sheeran, they expressed appreciation for the Scottish rock band Snow Patrol and the ascendant pop artist Lauv, the evening’s opening acts.
The most remarkable aspect of the show, however, was Sheeran’s efficiency at constructing and integrating the multiple layers of his compositions. The intricate process appeared so effortless that Sheeran felt compelled to remind the audience that everything he played was “completely live.”
Whether or not they believed him, no one could doubt that Sheeran’s concert was completely charming.
Set list: Castle on the Hill; Eraser; The A Team; Don’t; New Man; Dive; Bloodstream; Happier; Tenerife Sea; Galway Girl; Feeling Good; I See Fire; Thinking Out Loud; Photograph; Perfect; Nancy Mulligan; Sing; Shape of You; I Don’t Need You, You Need Me