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Tuning into Life: Reflections from an Ed Sheeran Concert Experience

Ed Sheeran is a 33-year-old singer/songwriter from Suffolk, England. He started singing in his church choir at age 4, was writing and singing at age 11, and released his first album at 13. He is described as one of the most influential artists of his generation. He has nearly 70 million monthly Spotify listeners (not far behind Taylor Swift's 100 million).

My wife, Ellen, and I have always talked about wanting to see him in concert, but he typically only plays large stadium shows in front of massive crowds. We prefer a smaller setting, so we were intrigued when he announced that he would perform a last-minute show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This would be a one-time show to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his breakout album X ("Multiply"). We only had two weeks to plan the trip and had to fit it in between client meetings and a pre-planned trip to the beach for Memorial Day, but we decided to go for it. We are so glad that we made that decision, as it was an incredible experience, and I wanted to share a few things I learned from it.

Sometimes, the best decisions are made at the last minute - I am a planner by nature, so it's not often I do something completely spontaneous like this. However, sometimes the best experiences in life are those you haven't planned for, so you have to be willing to trust your gut sometimes. The show was truly amazing as he played for almost 3 hours on stage alone, except for 2 songs where the New Hope Gospel Choir joined him. 

Living from your heart is the best way to connect with others - Ed writes his songs about things that are meaningful to him. Many of the songs are deeply personal. You could see and feel the emotion from him as he played these songs, some of which he had not played in 10 years (and some that he never played in public). We often bottle up our emotions or hesitate to show others how we really feel but it's important to be open up and to be vulnerable. As Brene Brown writes in Daring Greatly, "Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. … To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.”

Don't forget where you came from and treasure those memories and relationships - Ed grew up playing on street corners and never seems to have forgotten that despite his massive success. As he explained during the concert, he spent over two years in the States around the time the album X came out. He considered moving here, but he felt the friends he was making here were only around because of his success. He realized his true friends were those in the small town (2,000 people) where he grew up in England. He bought a house there and is raising his family there now. 

Exposure to diverse experiences and trying out various things enables you to more effectively shape your unique style and life path. During the concert, his songs ranged from slow love songs to fast-paced rock. He is also an amazing rap artist and can sing the blues very well. He is incredibly adaptable, an important skill in our ever-changing world.

Show appreciation and gratitude - Many times during this show, you could feel how thankful he was to be able to play this album and bonus tracks in full for this audience in the place where many of the songs were written. You could see this in his face and his attitude on stage. We can all work harder to show gratitude for everything we have in this life.

Making mistakes is human - Several times, typically as he was recording the background for a song on his Loop Machine, he screwed up. He would stop, tell the audience about the mistake, and start over. Sometimes, we are so afraid of making mistakes that we don’t take the chances we need to take to really move forward.  Everyone makes mistakes, so don't be afraid to admit it and move on.

I often forget how wonderful it is to connect with people through live music. This was a great reminder about how art in various forms brings out an aspect of our existence that can really round us out as a person. Being part of a one-time experience with a performer like Ed Sheeran, who brings so much passion to what he does, reminds me that this passion makes life worth living!

- Lyle K Benson Jr., CPA, PFS, CFP

The views expressed represent the opinions of L.K. Benson & Company and are subject to change.  These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person.

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