Was Ed Sheeran dazzling or dazzling on the Vikings field?

Two editors are better than one.

At least, British pop star Ed Sheeran thinks so. And he doubled down on that belief in Minneapolis this weekend.

He performed two separate concerts – Fridays at the intimate 2,200-seat State Theater as part of his Subtract Tour and Saturdays in front of a record 72,102 fans at the massive US Bank Stadium as part of his Mathematics Tour.

Both shows featured two of the Eds – 1) the vocalist and guitarist newly accompanied by a five-man band (as well as a six-piece string section in the state) and 2) the familiar Troubadour as a solo band backed by spinning pedals providing percussion tracks and background vocals It was created instantly.

On his return to Vikings Stadium, where he performed in 2018, Sheeran, 32, was enthralled by the likable love songs, easy conversation and catchy production of the tour with a rotating stage, six giant video screens shaped like guitar riffs. and eye-catching, bright and creative visuals on a cylindrical screen above the stage and other equipment.

Sheeran was center stage—with its spinning outer ring and soaring inner ring—all to itself. He twirled briskly or walked in a clockwise circle for much of the night in a way that was almost astoundingly distracting and less graceful than, say, Harry Styles in his last production on tour.

When the band joined Sheeran on eight of the 25 selections, the musicians were stationed under four different giant poles that towered over the stage. Separating the musicians from the singer by 25 yards in four directions seems to underestimate them, as if those supportive beams are an afterthought.

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Compared to the equally-but-different two-and-a-half-hour Friday set, Sheeran seemed a little rushed and less chatty on Saturday. There was an unmistakable similarity in all of this solo. At least Khaled, the Texas soul singer’s direction on their 2019 collaboration “Beautiful People” and violinist Alicia Enstrom on 2017’s Galway Girl, changed the feel and liveliness of the performance.

Sheeran also mixed things up by turning some of his favorites including “Perfect” and “Thinking Out Loud”—those first gems at the wedding—into giant songs. And sure enough, he overextended himself during the encore with the hip-hop-flavored “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” and “Bad Habits,” which he parked amid a flamethrower because he forgot to hit the foot pedal for the rhythm track.

Having an overall setup with speaker banks facing in many different directions made it possible for everyone in the acoustically challenging stadium to have a similar audio experience, for a change. It was a good experience.

Sheeran’s concurrent tours this year may indicate frustration with the highly impersonal music business. Reading between the lines of his talkative and deeply personal performance on Friday, there was a sense of tiredness from being an essential cog in a big machine, raking in a huge profit from recordings and concerts. His first five albums have sold over 92 million while his “-” (pronounced “Subtract”) album crossed one million this year.

Friday explained that it’s a “lonely and somber” album that doesn’t translate to stadiums (he only played three songs from “Subtract” during Saturday’s two-and-a-half-hour show) while he performed all fourteen selections on Friday). He plans to release an album this fall on his own label without “the same push or machine behind it. The songs won’t be slammed down your throat for four or five years.”

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His 2017-19 Divide tour set records for the largest total number of tickets and highest selling tickets (only to be bested by the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour that Elton John just completed). Sheeran set a new mark for one-night party attendance at the Vikings Coliseum, surpassing the old standard set by Garth Brooks by nearly 1,000. (For comparison, Sheeran drew 49,359 to the same stadium in 2018.)

On this tour, Sheeran proved to be a man of the people. Ever a good guy, girl dad, he helped serve up hot dogs at a store in Chicago, cheesesteaks at a Philly joint and beer at a brewery in Atlanta. In Tampa, he broke a high school squad practice. So, what was he doing in his spare time in the Twin Cities? He showed up with a guitar on a Saturday afternoon at the Mall of America to sing in front of a Lego store.

I think that was the original Ed, the rambler standing outside the storefront.

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