The Ed Sheeran concert at The Hollywood Bowl with opening act Rixton was hands down one of the best performances I have ever seen. Period.
An English singer-songwriter and musician, Ed Sheeran has become one of the biggest names in the music industry and there is a reason for that! He became well known for his song, “The A-Team”, and his No. 5 Collaborations Project that caught the attention of Elton John and Jamie Foxx. If there is anything that people should know about Sheeran, it is that he is an extremely diverse individual when it comes to musical genius. He sings, he raps, he plays guitar and loops it. He composes his own music and produces all in several types of genres. He has also been known for opening for Taylor Swift on her “Red” tour and for collaborating and writing some of her songs.
My cousin was sweet enough to get me tickets to see him at one of the biggest concert venues in California, The Hollywood Bowl, on June 24th this summer. I was extremely excited, as this would be a trip to California to see my cousin and hear some great music; however, I was not prepared to witness the insanity and exhilaration that this concert would bring me. Sheeran’s second studio album X (read as “multiply”), released last year and it ranked as number one in the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200! He has also been nominated for the Album of the Year at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.
For those of you who have not been to the Hollywood Bowl, it is a massive venue that is always jam-packed and holds over 20,000 spectators. Shaped to its name, you enter the stadium and see everyone forming the shape of a round bowl and then the stage far below is massive and is embraced by a halo of lights also shaped like… you guessed it… a bowl.
The wonder of the venue aside, the people who attended and occupied its arena were interesting to see. It was intriguing to see all sorts of people from any type of status quo you could name: old, young, preppy, tall, short, girls, boys, athletes, hipsters, couples, groups, artists, businessmen, doctors, etc. It was just so interesting to see how California could inhabit all of these people and how they all congregated for this one show to forget their differences and enjoy the commonality they shared here. After grabbing dinner and sitting down, the perfect weather of Los Angeles encircled us with a light breeze while remaining warm. The sky was still bright but more solemn and dim. Finally, a loud guitar played and out came the opening act, Rixton.
This English pop-rock boy-band have been making their run in the pop world and capturing many girls’ hearts with their boy-next-door sound. They are fun to sing along and dance to and after watching them perform, they seem like they are a great group of guys to hang out with. The lead singer, Jake Roche, was hilarious and had a great charisma on stage; he danced ridiculously and called out “Ello, darling!” to the crowd and took selfies with the crowd. Rixton had guitar battles between their two guitarists Charley Bagnall and Danny Wilkin. Then, they wrapped up with their most popular single “Me and My Broken Heart” and the crowd went wild. At the end of their production, Roche ran across the stage waving an American flag.
After their performance, we all waited in anticipation for the main act. The sky got darker and became the best backdrop for our event: the moon was up, the stars emerged, and the rest of the arena was dark. I remember that as soon as someone saw his silhouette walk across the stage in the dark, he or she screamed and the crowd erupted into thunderous applause. He started playing his guitar and singing, and all I can remember from that point on was thinking the entire time, “Damn. I know I like his music, but I didn’t think he was such a musical genius! I’m in love!” He blew my mind away, and my cousin’s as well. She had actually never really listened to his music before and she was extremely impressed. For me, it was as if I was listening to Sheeran for the first time and re-experiencing his music. Sheeran just absolutely killed it! He was witty when he spoke to the crowd. He was kind. He was funny. He carried himself the whole time humbly, but his music projected him as some sort of prodigy. In each song, he would use his looping-machine to create beats and sounds that would accompany him through a song to make him a one-man band. He was brilliant!
In addition, I would like to applaud the set designers because their work made the entire event so much more exciting. Lights changed color schemes to perfectly match the mood for a particular song. Twelve screens surrounding the stadium projected Sheeran for all to see, but it was always in a different form. At times he was pixelated, then he was surrounded by shattered glass, then he was sketched out in hard-boiled style, and then he was on fire when he sang his song “Afire” (oh, the irony). The special effects never ended and it made for a great show. During his performance of “Think Out Loud,” they projected his music video for the song with him dancing as if he was on So You Think You Can Dance.
It was funny, because as much as I hate to admit it, there is always some point of a concert experience that might get a little boring, but not during this concert. Sheeran kept me mesmerized by his talent and ability. There seemed to be no mistakes and each song flowed transitioned with ease. The crowd was enthusiastic and respectful. I saw an old man behind me who had attended with his wife and was fully enjoying the experience, swaying this way and that way, smiling cheek to cheek. Young girls jumped up and down, singing with each other. Couples held each other in their arms. My cousin and I laughed and danced along.
I know that this is why I love the concert experience. A place to commune without judgment and, specifically here in California, sit under the stars listening to music. The perfect summer set up.
Sheeran continued to amaze us with his insane-in-the-membrane remixes of old-timer songs that everyone loves and knows such as “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers and “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. He also executed a wonderful performance of a Stevie Wonder song he had the chance to sing at a Stevie Wonder Tribute. My favorite was when he did his remix of his song “Don’t” mashed with “Loyal” by Chris Brown and “No Diggity” by Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre.
The fact that he was doing this all alone was dumbfounding. His voice is deep and strong, but his vocal range can slip to perfect, sweet falsettos. His rhythm and ear for music is unfathomable. He jumped from slow songs to pop songs to rap songs, from old songs to new songs, all the way to traditional Celtic music (as heard in the score of The Hobbit). He was all over the place. I could not tell what kind of concert I was at, but it was an all-you-can-listen music buffet!
Everyone was bouncing and jumping; it was a party! But the best part had to definitely be when he asked all 17,000 individuals in the bleachers to pull out their lighters (in today’s millennial generation, that means our iPhone flashlights) and start waving them as he played along. I have never seen anything like it before. The moon was no longer in charge of lighting the sky– we were. I saw more little lights in the air than I have ever seen and it was one of the most memorable images I will ever have.
At the end of Sheeran’s performance, the entire Bowl was covered in rainbow light and made for an energized and wild crowd. He left the stage, but he didn’t leave for long because he knew the crowd wanted him back. He finished off on stage with “Sing” and we left the Bowl more energized than when we had entered.
I do not know when I will experience such a concert in my life again, but I am at least happy to know that I did witness such musical prowess. Thank you to my cousin for the tickets and thank you to Sheeran and Rixton for a great performance—I totally recommend going to one of his concerts if you ever can!