Ed Sheeran sure likes surprises.
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter helped launch his last album “x,” with a spur-of-the-moment show at The Paramount in Huntington in 2014. On Monday night, he launched his new album “Divide” with an invitation-only show at The Studio at Webster Hall in Manhattan that will air on SiriusXM Radio.
But the tiny club wasn’t intimate enough for the superstar who normally fills stadiums. So halfway through his set, he left the stage to stand on a table in the middle of the floor to sing three songs with no amplification at all, including the gorgeous new ballad “Supermarket Flowers.”
“I’m really enjoying this,” Sheeran told the crowd, which included actor Tom Hiddleston and “Good Morning America” co-host Jesse Palmer. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played a show like this.”
His enjoyment and the connection with the crowd made all his songs work better, especially when he combined his hit “Don’t” with the new song “New Man.”
Sheeran stretches stylistically on the eclectic “Divide,” from the danceable pop of “Shape of You” to the hip-hop of “Eraser,” which features his take on the pluses and minuses of fame. Because Sheehan performed solo, with only his acoustic guitar and recorded loops as accompaniment, the crowd didn’t get the more adventurous tracks from “Divide,” already an overwhelming smash.
The album logged 56 million streams on Spotify Friday, nearly doubling the previous one-day record set by The Weeknd in November. Billboard reports that “Divide” is expected to sell between 350,000 and 425,000 in its first week, giving it the biggest debut of 2017 and an easy path to No. 1.
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Sheeran is also stretching lyrically. “I don’t want to make any broad statements,” he said, introducing his soon-to-be anthem “What Do I Know?” “But people should love each other more.”
It’s all part of Sheeran maturing as an artist, learning how to master his craft without losing the element of surprise.
Monday’s show was part of SiriusXM’s “Secret Show” series, which included last summer’s Coldplay show at Stephen Talkhouse. Sheeran’s show will air on SiriusXM Hits 1 at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tuesday and at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on The Pulse.
SETLIST: Castle on the Hill / The A Team / Don’t >New Man / I’m a Mess / Supermarket Flowers / Eraser / Perfect / Feeling Good >I See Fire / Thinking Out Loud / Shape of You / What Do I Know?