By Chuck Cox
When Snow Patrol, one of my favorite bands, played Southside Music Hall last May, Sheeran was supposed to be the opening act. But Sheeran had to attend to family business, which he alluded to in Friday’s show. Instead, we got Gary Go, who was pretty damn good.
But after that show, it seemed like Sheeran just blew up here in America, like he already had in his native England. I was hearing his name everywhere, seeing him in magazines, and spotlighted on iTunes. His latest album, +, has picked up massive steam on the strength of the single “The A Team.” Most recently, Sheeran did a duet with Taylor Swift on her new CD, and then scored the opening slot on her upcoming tour.
As a result, Sheeran packed the house at the Palladium. I didn’t actually have a ticket to the show until late Friday afternoon, when the venue released a few more tickets to the sold-out show. The Palladium seems to be pretty good about that, but when there’s a huge show coming, you might want to grab your tickets early.
I’m really glad it all worked out. After two 30-minute opening sets by Foy Vance and rappers Rizzle Kicks. Sheeran was electrifying. He performed like a guy who has been a household name here for years. The extremely youthful crowd sang almost every lyric right back to Sheeran, who was armed only with an acoustic guitar and backing tracks – no band. I’m pretty sure I was about the ninth-oldest person there. And the line of cars filled with parents waiting to pick up their kids after the show made me grin.
Sheeran’s nearly two-hour set included the vast majority of +. He also threw in a very cool cover of “Wayfaring Stranger” and Nina Samone’s ”Be My Husband,” with Vance helping him out. Rizzle Kicks, which rolled through a high-energy, fun set after a more disjointed, clunky effort by Vance, also joined Sheeran for part of a lengthy version of “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.”
Sheeran also said Friday’s gig was the biggest headling show for him in the United States. It would have been cool to have seen Sheeran open for Snow Patrol, but I’m glad I finally got to see him live. Sheeran has “star” written all over him. And he’ll likely have a lot more headlining gigs in Dallas down the road. He definitely has a unique gift for writing and delivering lyrics.