Ed Sheeran celebrated the American release of album + last night with his first headlining show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. The 21-year-old delivered a lively set to a crowd that was largely seeing him for the very first time, sufficiently showing off his vocal talent and beatboxing abilities, as well as his power to control a room full of screaming fans with one polite hand motion. During “Grade 8″ Sheeran successfully managed to work in a cover of “Lighters Up” by none other than Lil Kim, a great surprise for all New Yorkers in attendance. We knew Ed was a big hip-hop fan, bending and twisting his lyrics in ways that resemble the flow of Eminem and his other idols, but it’s always refreshing to see that love realized through a song that gives people no choice but to wave their hands in the air.
He’s covered Kim in concert before, as well as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind“—which he performed for BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge—and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” but Bowery was the perfect place to send a crowd into overdrive with three unexpected covers by three hometown artists. Anyone who still doesn’t get pumped about the “Empire State of Mind” is lying to themselves and Mayor Bloomberg—or just a bitter Phillies fan at heart. We guess New York just has this strange ability to bring the unknown rap prowess out of people? Sheeran’s lively set also featured current single “The A Team,” a discussion of the gang dynamics in West Side Story and Taylor Swift favorite, “Lego House.” Sadly, Swiftie didn’t make a surprise cameo like we had hoped, but Sheeran more than handled things on his own. Watch more highlights below.