REVIEW: Ed Sheeran, Plug, Sheffield

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THE intimate Neutral room sold out in double quick time ahead of hosting this singer songwriting sensation.

Ed broke into the mainstream via the power of social networking allied with an incredible work ethic of 300 gigs in 2009 alone.

At just 20, Yorkshire-born, Suffolk-raised Ed has developed a brand of social issue-driven urban folk delivered with a depth of feeling that’s hard to fake, leading to a queue of grime artists including Wiley, Devlin, JME and Ghetts working with him on EP No5 Collaboration. In January it topped the iTunes chart without a label or promo, waking up the majors - a debut album emerges on Atlantic Records in September.

When Mr Sheeran appears the reaction is deafening and he has an immediate connection as he explains background to many songs. He plays with an emotion that makes the sad tales of homelessness, drugs and prostitution in The A Team and others all the more real.

It’s impossible to pick highlights from a set filled of gems like Wayfaring Stranger and autobiographical You Need Me, precluding an unplugged encore atop a box in the middle of the audience.

The way this impressive young man’s music has gone viral could well see him emulating the heady heights of Adele in the coming year. Tonight was probably a last chance to taste him up close and personal.

Sean Bruce