Sheeran opening up for Taylor Swift two years ago.
Sheeran opening up for Taylor Swift two years ago.
Photo by Timothy Norris

Ed Sheeran Has an Army of Screaming Girls, and He's Not Afraid to Use Them

Don't underestimate the force of 20,000 teenage girls screaming in unison at the top of their lungs. When the lights cut out at the AAA at precisely 9 p.m. Wednesday, the sheer force of the shrieks rip through the arena like a shotgun blast, powerful enough to put out a forest fire — perhaps even powerful enough to make a certain artist shart their pants.

Luckily, though, Ed Sheeran walked out onstage unharmed by the shockwave, a casual-looking dude with an unkept head of light red hair.

After starting with a song off his album X, “I’m a Mess,” the 24-year-old British musician greeted the elated crowd with a simple message: "My name is Ed, and my job for the next two hours is to entertain you."

And that, my friends, is exactly what he did.

Dressed in a plain black shirt, navy cargo shorts, and dark sneakers, Sheeran was the epitome of humility. The unconventional pop singer has managed to sell out large arenas and produce hit after hit despite not having the typical “look” of a star. But who needs a chiseled jaw line when you can write such sweet lyrics and match the words to even sweeter sounds? 

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Sheeran's lack of conventional handsomeness didn't seem to bother any of the thousands of girls in attendance, who would have married him instantly had their parents not been sitting beside them to protest the proposal.

Sheeran mixed up his set list with plenty of songs off all his records. Softly crooning tracks like “One,” “Photograph,” and “Tenerife Sea,” Sheeran literally moved his audience to tears and kept them in a near frenzy for the duration of his nonstop set.

He kept fans on their toes by mashing up his own songs — like “Don’t” and “Nina." He would throw in snippets of cover tunes as well, ranging from Drake's "Know Yourself" to a more politically correct version of Chris Brown's "Loyal."

Let’s not forget that moment he closed his eyes and started singing a slow version of Will Smith’s classic “Miami." It was an appropriate shoutout to a city that was showing him no shortage of love, but unfortunately most of the crowd was too young to recognize Smith's classic ode to the Magic City and instead nodded along politely, elbowing friends to ask, "Which one is this?"

It was hard not to fall in love with Sheeran during the show — his boyish charm whipping the arena into a two-hour-long collective scream. He worked hard for his fans, moving around with the urgency of an emergency room doctor, switching guitars after every song, stomping on his looping pedal, and beating his guitar like a drum.

He was also some sort of acoustic aphrodisiac. A young married couple sitting nearby spent the majority of the concert embracing each other: He had his right arm draped over her shoulder, and she nuzzled comfortably in the space under his arm that seemed to have been made perfectly to fit her. He would rest his cheek atop her head or softly kiss her and smile. Ahh, love.

Sheeran’s singing not only brought couples closer together but it brought friends together too. A few rows in front of Mr. and Mrs. Loveydovey, a clan of preteens stood the whole night holding their phones in front of their faces and watching the concert through a fluorescent screen. One girl, however, video-called a friend so she could digitally share in the experience. This phoned-in friend was so happy to be hearing Sheeran live (or pissed to be missing it) that she was left wiping away the tears streaming down her face. Ahh, friendship.

The most refreshing thing about Sheeran’s concert at the AAA was how simple yet utterly captivating it was. The stage was bare, save for speakers, some microphones, and a trusty device on the floor that acted as Sheeran’s partner. This device, Sheeran felt the need to explain, captured any melodies or vocals he wanted it to record and played it on loop — so, in a way, it acted as his band, his backup vocals, and anything else he needed in between. Sheeran told the audience of a Canadian couple who after one of his shows complained that they felt cheated because he was playing with a backing track. Sheeran made it a point to let everyone know that “everything you hear is completely live.”

It was thoroughly impressive how the freckle-faced singer acted as his own one-man band so effortlessly and jumped around from speaker to speaker, microphone to microphone, and stage left to stage right, all the while maintaining a bright grin.

Wednesday night’s show was the first time Sheeran headlined a gig in Miami, and he certainly proved that he’s a performer who can not only sell out arenas but also put on a performance filled with emotion that spills out over the audience.

Your daughter's in love. And it could be worse.  

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