Ed Sheeran sings his way through Asia

Ed Sheeran sings his way through Asia
Ed Sheeran in Shanghai.

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran performed his first concert in China on March 7, at Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena.

The 24-year-old Grammy and Brit Awards winner played songs from his two studio albums "+" and "X" (pronounced "multiply") wearing a plain dark T-shirt and jeans, accompanied only by his guitar. More than 7,000 people stood, danced and waved their cellphones throughout the show.

The show sold out weeks in advance and scalpers were selling tickets at double the face value outside the arena, hours before the concert started.

Sheeran has just completed his first tour of Asia, performing in Mumbai, Doha, Dubai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Manila, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. He will next travel to Australia and New Zealand for more concerts.

In Seoul last week, Sheeran posted a handwritten note from a Korean fan that read: "You are a little ugly but I love you!" Sheeran didn't take offence to the message, adding a good humored caption to the picture "God bless Korea".

In 2015, Sheeran won the awards for best male solo artist and best album of the year at the Brit Awards and favourite album and favourite male artist at People's Choice Awards.

The young musician is level-headed about his success. "Good music sells tickets and records, not the statues," he told the media before his Shanghai concert. "Statues are good. They make you happy, but I didn't play any less gigs because I didn't win."

He believes it's the music that brings him true recognition. "You just have to make music from your heart, and make the music you want, what you believe in, rather than what other people think you should do."

Sheeran grew up in Suffolk and moved to London to pursue his music career in 2008, when he began to play in small venues. Sheeran moved to Los Angeles in the United States in 2010 and developed a solid fan base through YouTube.

His major international popularity began in 2012. He was a guest musician on Taylor Swift's album Red and wrote songs for One Direction. His song The A Team was nominated for song of the year at the 2013 Grammy Awards and he sang a duet with Elton John during the ceremony.

Such achievements have "surpassed expectations", says the young musician, who explained his understanding of success as "to be big in my home country" and play in a stadium of 2,000 seats.

Mercedes Benz Arena, the largest indoor stadium in Shanghai, has more than 12,000 seats, but opened 7,000 for the show.

"Me, being English, I should be able to do music in London, but you never expect your music to make you able to travel to China, or play in Korea," Sheeran says.

Success and fame has brought lots of changes to his life but he says: "I am doing the same thing I was doing before, which is play music every day and travel-I am just traveling further and playing music to more people and I am really enjoying it."

According to British tabloid Daily Mirror, Sheeran had promised to make his acting debut in an Indian film Happy New Year 2, but it was not completely true.

"I definitely want to be in a Bollywood film," he told the media in Shanghai, adding that Bollywood interests him more than a Hollywood film, because it is "exciting, fun, and vibrant".

During his brief stay in India, he was exposed to a new culture for the first time. He went to a Bollywood party, learned to dance in the Bollywood style, ate food and spoke to movie industry people. "It's just wonderful. Everyone was happy, which is more than what I can say about Hollywood."

Sheeran would welcome the opportunity to perform more shows in China because "China is about 40 times the size of my country", so it would be unfair not to come back for more concerts. He is open for other opportunities in China too, such as TV shows and acting jobs.

"People need to offer me these things because I don't know what to do in China, but yes, I'd love to."

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