By Danny Schrafel
Hordes of “Sheerios” descended on Huntington village Saturday night after pop star Ed Sheeran announced he would play a surprise concert at The Paramount that evening.
“The A-Team” singer, whose new album, “X (Multiply)” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts two weeks ago, shared his plans on his official Twitter account at 6 p.m. With that announcement, the race was on to Huntington village to snag a seat for the 9 p.m. show.
The response was so strong, Paramount spokesman Adam Ellis said, that “at least 700, 800 people” were turned away.
Sheeran, a 23-year-old singer-songwriter from Great Britain, rose to prominence in 2011 when his independent EP caught the attention of rock royalty. Sir Elton John took notice of the young singer and signed him to his management company. Sheeran’s subsequent debut album, “+ (Plus),” which contained his breakout hit, “The A-Team,” went gold in the States.
“Ed Sheeran is a global superstar and we were grateful for the chance he gave Long Island to see him live in concert,” said Brian Doyle, a co-partner of The Paramount.
“It’s not very often that a musician of his caliber offers to surprise his fans with a full concert, while currently having the no. 1 album in the U.S.,” added co-partner Stephen Ubertini.
Fans could be seen rushing all evening to The Paramount, where they jumped in line with hopes of becoming one of the 1,555 who scored a $20 ticket for the concert. Sheeran took the stage at 9:45 p.m., Ellis said, once the venue got everybody inside and situated.
“I didn’t decide I wanted to go until 6:30. I left at 6:45 and I’m here now,” Natalie Tabib, of Roslyn Heights, said as she walked up New York Avenue with three friends, shortly after 7:15 p.m.
While she found out through Twitter, her friend Jessica Perry found out by a text message. The Paramount gig would be her third Ed Sheeran concert, and she decided to come “the second I got the text,” she said.
Ellis said Monday the crowd started growing about a half hour after Sheeran’s tweet. By 8 p.m., the line sprawled from The Paramount’s front door, down New York Avenue, left onto East Carver Street and left again on Myrtle Avenue.
By that hour, one person who was sitting pretty at the front of the line, ticket in hand, was Jenna Aunlle, of Lindenhurst. She made the decision to come about “two seconds” after she got word at 6 p.m. that Sheeran was performing. Ninety minutes later, she had her ticket. Some fans said they had been waiting for Sheeran since 10 a.m.
That’s because they probably caught wind that Sheeran was in town. That afternoon, he did a pair of private listening parties for WBLI and WALK radio in the Founder’s Room, Ellis said.
“In the course of doing that, he thought it would be a really cool idea to do a full concert that night, and we agreed,” Ellis said.
The Tweet, Ellis said, came at 5:58 p.m., just minutes after the chart-topping performer made his decision.
“I'm sat at The Paramount venue in Huntington. I've decided I wanna play a gig tonight,” Sheeran Tweeted. “It's such a lovely venue I couldn't resist, so...”
This isn’t the first time a last-minute concert at The Paramount made waves in Huntington village. On Oct. 16 of last year, homegrown rock legend Billy Joel, who had largely been off the road at that point, gave a day’s notice that he’d be playing at The Paramount. The concert, a benefit for Long Island Cares – The Harry Chapin Food Bank, sold out in minutes.