For a short period of time, it was unclear if Sheeran would actually make it to the SNL stage – his latest appearance on the series was announced on October 24, but it was only a few hours later that he confirmed he’d tested positive for COVID-19. Any worries were quashed on November 3, however, when Sheeran was given the greenlight to end his quarantine.
Sheeran performed on the most recent episode SNL – the fifth of season 47, which aired last night (November 6) and marked his third appearance on the show – alongside a three-piece band and two backup singers. He performed lively renditions of his ‘=’ tracks ‘Overpass Graffiti’ and ‘Shivers’ (both of which he’d also played in his recent Tiny Desk concert).
Take a look at the performances below:
Ahead of his SNL performance, Sheeran appeared on The Howard Stern Show to discuss his experience with COVID-19 and subsequent recovery. He told Stern that his stint on the show was never in jeopardy, saying bluntly: “I was always playing [the show]. Yeah, I don’t know why there was a huge furore about that. Everyone was saying they were scrambling to find a replacement.”
Sheeran – who claimed last month that Elton John phones him every day – confirmed he’d been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before contracting the virus, but had presented with “really, really, really bad symptoms” for roughly three days.
Before ‘=’ was released on October 29, it was teased that Sheeran already has a tracklisting drafted for his inevitable fifth album. “[Sheeran’s upcoming] tour is going to span three or four years, and there will be another record within that cycle,” his manager, Stuart Camp, said, noting “that was always the plan”.
The run in question – dubbed the ‘+ – = ÷ x Tour’ (pronounced ‘The Mathematics Tour’) – will kick off in April, with dates in the UK and Europe sprawling all the way out to next September.
Before then, Sheeran will return to London for an intimate show at St John at Hackney Church. The gig will be held in aid of the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation.
In a three-star review of ‘=’, NME’s Nick Levine said: “So, ‘=’ adds up to another album on which Sheeran comes off like a millennial Lionel Richie – namely, a very gifted singer-songwriter who’s sometimes sunk by his saccharine streak.
“When Sheeran gets a Glastonbury legends slot in 25 or 30 years’ time, he’ll probably nail it as Richie did in 2015 with a joyous procession of gold-plated hits. But for now, his persistent bad habits make this album a little less enjoyable than it could be.”