Ed Sheeran Minneapolis Weekend!
I’ve known for a long time that being surrounded by music is how I want to spend this short time on Earth. The double night, Ed Sheeran weekend was once again a reminder of how deeply rooted this love for music is in me and in my soul.
Ed Sheeran has been one of my favorite artists for a long time and last weekend seeing him a fourth and fifth time two nights in a row was something that I truly needed more than I know how to explain. For someone who seems to be such a genuine soul in this world, it’s hard not to be happy for him and his success, despite not knowing the man personally. He stopped by Minneapolis on his current Mathematics tour which acted as a close to a chapter in more ways than one way.
He came out with his album Subtract on May 5, which was the completion of the mathematic series which started in 2011 with his album release of Plus sign, followed by Multiply, Divide and Equals. The Mathematics tour consists of the big stadiums he can and has sold out and broken attendance records for left and right. Those shows are a compilation of the five albums in the series, as well as some of his other projects and collaborations.
Subtract got its own time to shine in a much smaller and more intimate way. At some stops, he booked a small show at theatres to play Subtract as the album straight through. He had said that he wanted to give the album the time it deserved as he didn’t think that those songs translated over to the big stadium shows. Fair point given that the album itself is a stunning rendition of his grief through losing his best friend, his wife getting diagnosed with cancer while she was pregnant with their second child and having to be in a big lawsuit trial over a copyright claim that in the end was dismissed.
The thing with Subtract is that it was meant to be a whole different album. Ed had been working on this album for the better part of the last decade and everything (minus my favorite song, The Hills of Aberfeldy, which made it onto the album now) got scraped when things hit the fan for him. He had said during the show he was overthinking it and while no fan or casual listener would ever wish upon him what happened right before Subtract was made, he utilized that raw grief and put it into 14 amazing songs that we can all hold onto to process our own things in life.
The Subtract Show Itself
In Minneapolis, that Subtract show was at The State Theatre on Friday night and it was truly surreal. There is no way that I could have ever guessed I would see and hear Ed Sheeran at a 2200-person venue, in part without a microphone.
Ben Kweller opened up for Ed and among some of the amazing songs that are nearing 20 years old, he played a song he had played at Ed’s wedding. Ed later said the wedding was incredibly small, so to see someone who is a close friend opening up for him as well at these shows made it feel that much more special and intimate, not only for the artists, but for the audience.
When Ed came out, he started with Boat, which is the first track on Subtract before he told the story of how the song was made. He went through each song that way, telling the story, and giving the audience a little chuckle or a little “aww” moment before he heart achingly played the stunning songs.
He kept referring to how “happy hour” would happen after the album play-through. It was then that he played his hits and went through with the loop pedal that people that have been to his shows are so familiar with, but it was always a reference point in the album play that we would be sad for the hour and then happy hour was coming. It's similar to how he is teasing his new album Autumn coming out in September by leaving little clues for popups on his instagram with a picture saying “autumn is coming.”
After he played the album, the hits and three unreleased songs, all of which left literal goosebumps on my body, he utilized what he said these theatres were made for and sang The Parting Glass and Afterglow without a microphone. That’s right… Ed Sheeran…one of the biggest artists in the world… singing to 2200 people… without a microphone. And let me tell you, it was magic. The Parting Glass is a song they play at barclose in Ireland, which is very much “it was a great time, goodnight and I wish you well” kind of vibe. He also has that song attached to the end of Give Me Love on the recording of Plus sign.
As for Afterglow, it is one of Ed’s one-off songs and while it is already goosbump-inducing, he had that crowd sing quietly and then loudly with him as he exited the stage for the night. It was a truly ethereal moment and still beautifully haunts me.
For both the Friday and Saturday night shows, the typical one-man show and his loop pedal were joined by a band for part of the night. It was wholesome to hear that he has always wanted to tour with a band and he is finally at the point where he can share the success he has had and bring in some of the other people that have helped him with that success.
While I still get fangirly and freak out every time he explains and shows the crowds how he uses the loop pedal, which may be one of the coolest things in music, it was heartwarming to see that Ed has never pretended to be this self-made artist that didn't get any help or learn things from other musicians and people in the industry.
The help he brought on stage with him is a simple reminder that none of us do this alone. We are not made into who we are all on our own. The people around us and the experiences that we have help us get to where we are. I think in all forms of art we all too often say that we got to places with no help along the way. The music industry specifically is unforgiving in a lot of ways and often takes years of hearing the word “no” before people listen to or look at what you have to say, seeing Ed share these big nights with the help of others is something that added to the show more than I initially thought was possible.
Ed brought in a new attendance record for the stadium at 72,000 people. More than Taylor Swift earlier this summer. And while US Bank Stadium is known for not having the best acoustics for concerts, given that it is a football stadium, he still delivered a stellar show people enjoyed on all levels of the stadium.
During his last encore song, Bad Habits, he had missed the loop pedal and started the chorus over, which he also played off so well with a smile and a laugh. A lot of reviews and reports say that he forgot to press the loop pedal, which is not the case. He simply missed it with his step but didn’t miss a beat.
All that is to say that of all the times I see him, he just keeps getting better. He seems like such a humble and down-to-earth guy (he did a popup helping kids at Lego Land for gosh’s sake), and his talent is something that has been shared with the world and will continue to be. I'm excited to see what is next for him.
Autumn is coming y'all.
Subtract Show Setlist
With full band
Life Goes On
End of Youth
The Hills of Aberfeldy
Happy Hour (solo set)
16. Thinking Out Loud
19.Shape of You
20. Bad Habits
21. The A Team
Three Unreleased songs from his new album this Fall
25. The Parting Glass
US Bank Stadium Setlist
3. I’m a Mess
5. The A Team
6. Castle on the Hill
8. Eyes Closed
9. Give Me Love
11. River/Peru/South of the Border/ I Don’t Care
12. Beautiful People (with Khalid)
13. End of Youth
14. Overpass Graffiti
15. Galway Girl (with Alicia Enstrom)
16. Thinking Out Loud
17. Love Yourself
23. You Need Me, I Dont Need You
24. Shape of You
25. Bad Habits