When my friends and I walked up to the venue, there was a line that curved down one street, and then wrapped around the bottom of the next street down, at least a thousand people long. I was a bit taken aback, because this was a first for me. I’ve been to the House of Blues a considerable amount of times, having seen bands such as Santigold, the Dirty Heads, Beirut, and New Politics there just over this past summer. Never once during the ten plus shows I’ve been there has there been a line, and the crowds inside generally held a pretty broad age and gender spectrum.
After standing in line for two hours, we were finally let in on to the mighty Floor. For those who have never been, the HOB is divided into 3 sections: Floor 1, 2, and the 3rd floor balcony. The Floor, despite the fact that it’s standing room only, is actually the best spot in the building; due to its awesomeness, it has dropped the label “1” and has just become the Floor.
There is no such thing as personal space on the Floor, which has both its pros and cons. Cons: after awhile (or not that long of a while sometimes) you want to punch the next person who steps on you or spills their overpriced drink down your back. Pros: when the headliner comes on stage people lose most of their self-awareness and becomes free to unleash their inner geek and dance it out to their favorite song.
When my friend and I walked in, the opening act, Selah Sue, was already in the middle of her set. Even though she has real style and talent, the audience, as usual, had no patience and started screaming for her to get off the stage and for Ed to come on.
A respectable and non-diva 15 minutes after his second opener, Parachute, finished, it finally happened; the lights in the house went down and the crowd began chanting “SHEER-AN! SHEER-AN! SHEER-AN!”
I felt the exhilarated mob of my fellow teenage girls press against every side of me in anticipation, to the point I couldn’t move any of my limbs comfortably, so I folded my arms across my chest, straight-jacket style (where they continued to stay glued against me for the next hour and a half). It didn’t help that just the day before my mom had told me about the true story about how 96 people were killed during a Liverpool soccer game in England, only around 20 years ago, from being crushed against the barrier of an overcrowded area behind one of the goal posts. So reasonably, the majority of my thoughts were concerned about whether I would ever make it out alive.
Finally, as the redhead come bounding onto the center stage, donning a UCLA t-shirt and his signature necklace, the crowd’s volume level somehow broke the scales and I was positive I had definitely impaired my hearing beyond repair. He opened with “Drunk,” which hit UK’s Top 10 spot in only its third week after being released. He then played a nine-song set, followed by a three-song encore.
From the moment he started singing, it was apparent that if you weren’t singing, you were the odd one out. There was so much chiming in from the rest of the audience that I found it difficult to clearly hear Ed’s voice, especially since the girl behind me felt the need to screech every lyric, even when he specifically asked the crowd to “sit out” at the beginning of a few songs.
The few times you could hear his voice clearly enough, my friends were convinced that he was lip-syncing because he somehow sounded better than he does on his album, which is a real rarity. I was also partly curious if he was, but he proved us wrong when he asked the crowd to be completely silent, and then turned his mic off to sing and project just what came naturally out of him.
On top of that, he had an amazing stage presence that blew away every other act I’ve seen in person. In numerous interviews I’ve seen of him, he seemed to be more introverted than anything else, but it was great to see him jump around the stage and engage with the screaming crowd. “He was super confident and really natural (on stage),” my friend Savanna Tavakoli, who I went to the show with, said of the show. “He was performing with the ease of someone who had been born on a stage.”
Actually, that wasn’t far from the truth! In his entire seven years as an active singer/songwriter, he’s performed well over a thousand shows, with 312 gigs in 2009 alone. His past experience and personal touch with every song on his album being written by him, he made for an attention-grabbing act the entire hour and a half he was on stage.
While the audience was frightening, threatening me to move up if there was an extra half inch of room, or screaming “SHUT UP!” at other girls for screaming “I LOVE YOU ED!”, it was more than worth it to see him live… I just wouldn’t blame him if he never came back to Boston.