Ed Sheeran and the top 10 concerts and albums for fall

Adam Graham
Detroit News Pop Music Writer

Ed Sheeran is on the phone from Kansas City, where the 23-year-old chart-topper has just completed work on a new song with electronic dance music producer and “Animals” hitmaker Martin Garrix.

It’s Sheeran’s first foray into EDM, but it’s not the only way he’s switching up his sound: The English singer-songwriter has also been working on a collaborative album with Compton rapper the Game that he hopes to have out by next summer.

These are left turns from the floppy-haired folk singer, best known for his sensitive acoustic ballads. But it’s part of Sheeran’s creative evolution, and he hopes to reach a position where his reputation silences any doubts about his musical choices.

“I want to get to a point where I can’t slip, where I’ve got a solid fanbase that will like whatever I put out as long as it’s quality,” says Sheeran, who headlines The Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday. “Not having a fanbase that’s going to disappear in five years, (but to) keep plugging away and make sure that people know the records that I’m putting out are as quality as I can make them and build up a reputation for that.”

So far, so good. Due to his sharp songwriting and searing live performances, Sheeran is one of the most promising stars of his generation. His 2011 debut album, “+,” earned him Grammy nominations for Song of the Year (for “The A Team”) and Best New Artist (he lost to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis), and sold more than 700,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its follow up, “x” (pronounced “Multiply”), was released in June and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart, selling 180,000 copies its first week in stores. It has since sold more than 400,000 copies.

Sheeran’s live shows are where he really shines, however. Armed with only an acoustic guitar and a set of foot pedals he uses to loop his voice and other sounds, Sheeran has a grand gift for commanding an audience. Opening for Taylor Swift on her stadium tour last year, the sheer size of Ford Field could have easily overwhelmed him — a single performer on a gargantuan platform. But within seconds of taking the stage, Sheeran captivated the crowd of 50,000, and he never let them go for the duration of his performance.

“I think it’s all about confidence,” says Sheeran, who started his career singing in pubs and at open mic nights. “Audiences are there to be entertained, so as long as you walk out with a good amount of confidence and swagger — not in an arrogant way, but as if to say, ‘You’re gonna like this’ — they’ll like it. Crowds are there to take it in and in a sense be told what to do. If you say, ‘Sing this,’ they’ll sing it back.”

And sing it back they do. When Sheeran performed at the Amp Live concert at Meadow Brook Music Festival in June, the crowd sang back the chorus to his hit single “Sing” for several minutes after he left the stage. Say what you will about today’s teens and their waning attention spans, Sheeran is proof that if you give them something they can connect to, they’ll respond in droves.

“Sing” is one of two songs on “x” co-written and produced by superproducer Pharrell Williams, whom Sheeran met at the Grammys. After exchanging pleasantries, the pair decided to work together, and they drummed up a pair of songs that harken back to Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” mix of pop and R&B-soul.

Several other songs on the album, including “Don’t,” “The Man” and “Take It Back,” find Sheeran rapping more than singing. His inspiration came from a certain Detroit rapper who played a large role in his genesis as an artist.

“I think Eminem’s first two records are part of the reason I started writing lyrics to begin with,” says Sheeran, who was raised in a small town in Suffolk, England. “I still go back and reference them a lot. ‘Marshall Mathers’ is more angry and ‘Slim Shady’ is a bit more witty, so I kind of dip back between them both. But in my opinion, (‘The Marshall Mathers LP’) is the best hip-hop album.”

That hip-hop influence extends to Sheeran’s joint LP with the Game, an album which “sounds very different from anything either of us have done before” but is “great, great music,” he says. After its release, he hopes to take some time off, his first real break in years.

“Since 2010, I haven’t taken a holiday; it’s just been one constant tour. So as soon as I get the chance to not tour, I think I won’t,” he says. “I’m going to live a normal life for a bit. Going to the pub on a Friday night with my friends, doing normal (things). I’m still going to be working, I’m going to write songs, I just don’t want to be constantly moving. I can treat it as a day job — wake up in the morning, have a cup of tea, write a song, finish it up, watch a film, go to bed.”

And the way he’s set things up for himself, when he’s ready to return, his fans will be waiting.



Ed Sheeran

With Rudimental

7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Palace of Auburn Hills

6 Championship Drive, Auburn Hills

Tickets $59.50

(248) 377-0100


Top fall albums

Ten albums that will ring out in a big way this fall:


Taylor Swift

, “1989” (Oct. 27) — Swift officially shakes off country music with her first full-fledged pop effort, which she says is inspired by the sound of her birth year.


Kanye West

, title and release date TBD — After last year’s abrasive “Yeezus” divided audiences, the newly married West reportedly aims closer down the middle with his seventh solo set.


Nicki Minaj

, “The Pinkprint” (release date TBD) — Rap’s reigning queen returns with her third album, whose title cleverly plays off Jay Z’s “The Blueprint” series.


Foo Fighters

, “Sonic Highways” (Oct. 21) — The making of the Foo Fighters’ eighth album — recorded in eight storied recording studios in eight American cities — will be chronicled in an HBO series of the same name (kicking off Oct. 17).


Bob Seger

, “Ride Out” (Oct. 14) — Seger’s 17th — and possibly last — studio album includes a cover of Wilco’s “California Stars” and kicks off with a cover of John Hiatt’s “Detroit Made,” both of which were performed during the legendary rocker’s last tour.


Various artists

, “Shady XV” (Nov. 28) — Eminem celebrates the 15th anniversary of his Shady Records imprint with a double disc collection that collects hits from the label’s vaults and new material from its current roster.


Lil Wayne

, “Tha Carter V” (Oct. 28) — After drifting for the past few years, Wayne appears to be regaining his focus, and his fifth (and supposedly final) entry in his “Tha Carter” series could return him to hip-hop’s top tier.



, title and release date TBD — When not giving to Detroit charities (or sending her daughter off to U-M), Madonna has reportedly been working on her 13th studio album, the follow-up to 2012’s under-performing “MDNA.”


Florida Georgia Line

, “Anything Goes” (Oct. 14) — The country duo that scored a monster smash with 2012’s “Cruise” returns with a new set of songs that will likely be blasting from speakers throughout summer 2015.


Travi$ Scott

, “Rodeo” (release date TBD) — The initial studio album from the Houston rapper/producer, known for his work with Kanye West, is the year’s most anticipated hip-hop debut.

Top fall concerts

Ten big concerts coming to the area this autumn:

Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull

, Sept. 21, Palace of Auburn Hills — The duo, who last toured together in 2011, return to the Palace for another double bill (although we can’t figure out why Pitbull isn’t headlining).


, Oct. 4, Saint Andrew’s Hall — The sultry newcomer, who opened for the Weeknd last year, headlines her first Detroit concert.

Chance the Rapper

, Oct. 8, Eastern Michigan University — The Chicago rapper has had a giant year, making huge splashes on the festival circuit, which he extends to his fall college headlining tour.

Jason Aldean

, Oct. 10 and 11, Palace — Once isn’t enough for the country rocker, who hits the Palace for back-to-back nights on the tour behind his boundary-pushing new album “Old Boots, New Dirt” (out Oct. 7).

Charli XCX

, Oct. 11, Saint Andrew’s Hall — The British pop singer had a huge summer, scorching the charts with Iggy Azalea with “Fancy” and her own “Boom Clap,” and she looks to carry that momentum with her new album “Sucker” (due Oct 21) and her fall headlining tour.

Pearl Jam

, Oct. 16, Joe Louis Arena — The grunge veterans hit the market for the first time since 2006, an absence during which they’ve released two albums, 2009’s “Backspacer” and last year’s “Lightning Bolt.”

Ryan Adams

, Nov. 9, Fillmore Detroit — The reclusive alt-country troubadour is back, performing his first Detroit concert since he played an intimate show at the Gem Theater in June 2007.

Chrissie Hynde

, Nov. 15, Masonic Temple — The Pretenders singer, who just turned 63, hits the road for a fall tour behind her summer release “Stockholm,” her first album under her own name.

Julian Casablancas + the Voidz

, Nov. 19, Saint Andrew’s Hall — The Strokes singer and his band of noise-rock renegades, touring behind their debut album “Tyranny” (due Sept. 23), look to bury all those catchy Strokes hooks underneath layers of electro-scuzz.


, Nov. 4, Palace — Usher’s first tour in three years follows comes even as his latest album “UR” has been temporarily shelved.