Ed Sheeran, iTunes Festival, The Roundhouse, London



"If you think you’re too cool to sing, you’re at the wrong gig," Ed Sheeran gently warns us, and his faithful – the Sheeranators - dutifully sing, sway, whoop, clap, and, even, hug (the troubadour asks us to hug the person next to us, which most obediently do) on demand.

In fact, the demands are never-ending, for "Give Me Love" this extremely self-assured singer and beatboxer instructs us to be "his gospel choir", while on the catchy "The A-Team" there’s a request for a "sea of lights". It’s almost total obedience from his young, mostly female, followers. For the most part it’s like being a non-believer at an evangelist meeting, and for the first two-thirds of this televised concert the wild adulation is baffling. At best, his earnest ballads lack depth, such as on the dirges "Small Bump" and "Drunk" where he pleads "I wanna hold your heart in both hands/ I’ll watch it fizzle at the bottom of a Coke can". At worst they lack wit, poignancy or spite – three vital ingredients for a compelling pop/rock song. It barely matters as the believers know every lyric, forcefully singing "Drunk" back at their carefully tousled hero.

There’s no doubting Sheeran’s musicianship; he’s a virtuoso on the acoustic guitar, frequently attacking the instrument with relish and his use of the loop pedal is impressive. Undeniably, the 21-year-old from well-heeled Framlingham, Suffolk is a phenomenon: his debut album, +, has been certified quadruple platinum, he’s bagged two Brits and an Ivor Novello, he provokes mass, Justin Bieber-style teen screams and he even performed Pink Floyd’s "Wish You Were Here" at the Olympics' closing ceremony. Most of his success was achieved off his own back, with little industry support.

"Don't need another wordsmith to make my tunes sell… I didn't go to Brit School," raps the polite outsider, in a reggae-tinged accent, on a feverish "You Need Me, I Don’t Need You", which includes guest spots from Devlin, Wretch 32 and Chipmunk. However for all his frequent protestations against the Brit School and The X Factor, slick soul numbers such as "Lego House" would fit neatly into the talent-show format. His sound is very commercial; even his new tattoo is sweet – a koala bear climbing a tree.

Does one very lovely moment make a decent gig? It certainly redeemed this one, with Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody joining Sheeran for an electrifying rendition of "Chasing Cars".

Towards the end someone behind me tentatively admitted to his female companion, "This isn't really my cup of tea". He had a point.

This article features Listen with Spotify

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture