MANSFIELD - They call themselves Sheerios, and they were out in full force Tuesday night at a nearly sold out Xfinity Center to see their idol, British singer-songwriter - and amazingly talented acoustic guitarist - Ed Sheeran.
After a spirited performance by the English dance/pop group Rudimental, the large stage at the outdoor venue was stripped down to two microphones, a few monitors, and a loop pedal station that provided high-tech instrumentation including background licks, layered vocal harmonies and some seriously cool reverberation.
When the 23-year-old Sheeran took to the stage at 8:30 p.m., the shrieks from the predominantly female audience were ear piercing. During Sheeran's nearly-two-hour, 16-song set, his female admirers yelled, "I love you" and similar sentiments dozens of times - prompting the musician to start laughing and say "shhhh" during one of his mellow songs.
Wearing an open navy blue and red checkered flannel shirt over a black T-shirt, black jeans, and black high-top sneakers, Sheeran opened with "I'm a Mess" off of the recently released "x," his second studio album.
At the end of the song, he engaged the crowd with light banter that continued throughout the show.
"My name is Ed," Sheeran said before his second song, the popular "Lego House." "My job for the next two hours is to entertain you, and your job for the next two hours is to be entertained."
Mission accomplished on both ends, as Sheeran poured his heart into each song, whether it was a funky rap number, an upbeat rocker or a melodious ballad that showcased this young performer's impressive vocal abilities.
Sheeran, who played several different acoustic guitars during the performance, has been called a one-man band. Nowhere was the accuracy behind that moniker more apparent than on "Bloodstream" (off his newest release). During the song, which came about halfway through his set, Sheeran rocked out, strumming his guitar feverishly while keeping a steady backbeat as he drummed on the body of the instrument and built to a crescendo (accompanied by flashing strobe lights) that drove the cheering crowd wild.
While Sheeran encouraged the audience during many of his songs to sing along - and even held a who-can-sing-the-loudest competition between two halves of the crowd - he asked everyone to "rest your voices and just chill" when he sang the beautiful ballad "Afire Love," which is about his late grandfather's battle with Alzheimer's. The audience obliged, turning their smart phones to flashlight mode and holding them high above their heads so a sea of shining lights filled the amphitheater.
Other show highlights included the popular "You Need Me, I Don't Need You," "One," "Drunk," and "The A-Team."
Sheeran capped off the night with the pop/R&B-influenced "Sing," the lead single off "x." And with that, having accomplished his previously stated goal, he left the audience more than adequately entertained.