SSE Hydro, Glasgow
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IF YOUR only exposure to date to Ed Sheeran has been the tweedledy-dee faux-folk of hits such as Galway Girl, I’ve got news for you – he raps too.
Sure, the audience here may be mostly teenage girls, but Sheeran – with his NWA pastiche “Straight Outta Suffolk” t-shirt, and hard drinkin’ and druggin’ songs like Eraser and Save Myself – has clumsy designs on a whole new demographic.
Look, I know what you’re thinking. Making fun of the multi-million selling Sheeran – a songwriter who has elevated “uncool” into a career path – is hardly a challenge. But while it may be petty, there’s just something that rankles about a songwriter who holds himself out to be a nice guy while performing misogynistic poison pen letters to his exes every night. If you thought Don’t, from 2014’s x album, was harsh, just wait until you hear New Man, from this year’s ÷.
Whitman said we contain multitudes, but it’s hard to reconcile the viciousness of lyrics like “now you’re eating kale, hitting the gym, keeping up with Kylie and Kim” with the drippy Sheeran of Happier, Thinking Out Loud and How Would You Feel (Paean) – the latter in particular a treacly, piano-driven corruption of Van Morrison’s Have I Told You Lately.
Still, it takes both guts and talent to charm a sold-out arena crowd with little more than an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal, even if it takes a brass neck to charge £70 a head for the privilege. And, against a video backdrop that appears to reflect back the very country lanes Sheeran is singing about in Castle on a Hill, that line about driving fast while listening to Tiny Dancer seems almost profound.