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The hype train roars back into town, this time with a young ginger haired lad in tow with an acoustic guitar and cat paw scrawl. Ed Sheeran, this year’s next ‘big thing’ has been traversing the slippery road to musical recognition, gradually gaining attention via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Edmania is clearly on the move and yet more compelling evidence of the power of social networking in the music industry. All Hype aside, Ed Sheeran is undeniably very talented, garnering not only praise from all corners of the music press and those who supposedly know but from his loyal band of hardy internet supporters who continue to trumpet his praises. He effortlessly mixes acoustica with hip hop, grime and dupstep and in a single moment amalgamates all the current youth orientated genres, and splices them into an amorphous musical zeitgeist. He has a great voice if not an truly unique one but one which he utilizes with aplomb for his life affirming tales of the sordid underground, brutal love, dalliances with drugs and other teenage miscreant exploits.

Bath’s legendary Moles club hasn’t seen masses like this in a long time and through the stormy rain clouds, rows of hipsters, dup-steppers and tweenies all wait in line to catch a glimpse of their new hero. It is without doubt, very interesting how this one artist is able to bring together some quite disparate music identities who only share one thing in common, namely, youth. Ed arrives on stage, somewhat inconspicuously to the love paeans of teenage girls and somewhat surprisingly the whooping of teenage boys, clearly he is tapping into something here and the boy certainty know how to orchestrate his crowd introducing songs, old and new alike, discussing record company politics, the inspiration behind the music, and masterfully asking the teeming mob for silence for some songs and full bodied singing for others. Any silent break into acapella sends the crowd into shrieking adulation and the whole hour and half set is indeed masterfully played.

At one point Ed even stops mid song to ask some red faced girls to pipe down and stop talking and listen, as this particular song is quite emotional for him. After the song Ed apologizes for bringing the crowd down but is greeted with supportive cheers and equal jeers aimed in the direction of some very ashen faced girls, clearly the fans know the music means something to him. Ed Sheeran clearly has the crowd in the palm of his hand and as A-Team draws in, a possible no 1 hit this week, Ed thanks the fans and asks for just a few more downloads to nudge it to the top spot. Additionally the crowd is sent into further rapture as mid point through the song Mikill Pane steps on to stage to sing a bit of little lady. As Ed comes out for his encore explaining to the sweaty mass that he will be taking a chair into the crowd for his last two songs, the screams reach fever pitch as the crowd reposition themselves for the best view. As the last closing strums of Skinny Love (his rather delicate cover of the Bon Iver favorite) echoes through the room Ed grasps the hand of his ever faithful ‘bodyguard’ and moves carefully through the crowd, up the stairs to the merch desk; a pied piper of sorts with the room slowly emptying behind him and the combined sweats of 200 teenagers slowly condensing sliding down the walls.

Moles definitely feels like too small a venue for the ever rising star, with many individuals still milling around outside desperate to get in. His first major headline Tour in November has already almost sold out, but Sheeran seemingly honors his commitments. Moles could have been sold out three times over tonight. As an artist who like many others has worked his way through the social networking milieu, Ed Sheeran stands somewhat apart from his peers, Jessie J does her thing, and James Blake his, but Ed seems to know that he owes pretty much everything to his fans and recognizes even now that they come first. And this is what is uniquely charming about Ed Sheeran. Despite his star rising astronomically in the last few months, he remains seemingly very much down to earth, unassuming and very modest. No doubt at least 75% of the crowd will get in line to have a quick chat with Ed, get things signed and take the odd pictures, and almost certainly he will be there for a few hours.

We could of course wax lyrical about the hype, the somewhat now obligatory Elton john call, the incredulous tales of post record deal homelessness, uber couch surfing, from London to LA, with movie stars and big time producers lending a bed, but despite the anecdotes, publicity and word of mouth touting it remains very much about the integrity of the music and what it means for him and his fans. Read a full interview with Ed in this month’s 247 Magazine.

Words, photo and videos: Yatin Amin