Ed Sheeran has been racing through 179 show dates. The 24-year-old English singer is now on the last leg of his current tour, which is now in the Eastern United States. Just this past Friday and Saturday, he played in New York and New Jersey. What’s surprising fans wherever Sheeran plays is how he turns himself into a one-man band using technology.
Ed’s been making good use of a musical looping device. The device allows him to record short pieces of audio that repeat. He can add layers of sound in real time, allowing him to build up a virtual orchestra in front of crowds.
While he puts certain chords, strums, and guitar taps on autopilot, Sheeran can let go of the guitar and pick up the microphone and sing. He can layer background vocals and have those repeat while he sings the main tune.
I can only guess if the expense of hiring a band is why Ed is doing this. But Rolling Stone explains the effect of Sheeran’s high tech approach.
“Although the singer performed alone, his foot pedal allowed him to loop his voice and guitar to an impressive effect, filling the open-air venue with layer upon layer of sound. The fans seemed awe-stricken by how skillfully he approximated the vibe of a full band; sometimes, their own singing provided the songs’ harmonies.”
Such a technique is utilized on the subway platforms and sidewalks of New York City. You can see a select few street musicians hypnotizing audiences with the same technology.
The difference is that Ed Sheeran has a Grammy-nominated album to his name. It’s certainly the first time I’ve seen a commercial artist devote a tour to using such a technique. Can’t say for sure, but perhaps Ed Sheeran won’t be the only mainstream artist to adopt the technique after this tour is over. Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith used an iPad to do something similar on TV a little while ago.
Aside from sound technology, Sheeran also put video screens across the back of the stage to distract you from the fact you’ll be sitting there for two hours watching one man. Those screens duplicate Ed’s face as the audio looping duplicates the sounds he’s making. Sheeran puts the technology to good use as he performs mashups and cover songs.
So when he’s not denying Taylor Swift some love, Ed Sheeran is out there innovating things musically.
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]