The thing about Ed Sheeran is that, the first time one of his songs comes up on Pandora, it may not sound all that different than any of the other singer-songwriter-y jams that populate your Paolo Nutini channel. He’s a talented songwriter –just ask Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber, who has apparently enlisted his help for his acoustic album — but what really sets Sheeran apart is his stage show, where he expertly loops his vocals and guitar riffs into a full band’s worth of sound. He didn’t do that last night when he performed his Grammy-nominated anti-drug anthem “The A Team” on Jimmy Kimmel Live, but his heartfelt but bare-boned performance was the perfect way to show off his chops to a late night audience that may be less familiar with the work he’s done with the One Direction cuties.
We’ve watched proudly as our former You Oughta Know star has climbed the Billboard (“The A Team” is currently ranking at #16 on the Hot 100) and iTunes (+ ranks at 20 on the album chart) charts over the past few months, thanks in part to his friends in high places, and when he earned his first Grammy nod (that he did himself). A few more fine showings like this and 2013 is his for the taking.