“You all know the words to this,” Sheeran said before the two singer-songwriters plucked away at their guitars for a charming rendition of the classic track. Kweller and Sheeran traded off verses, showed off their guitar skills and even covered a bit of Sean Kingston’s “Stand By Me”-sampling 2007 hit “Beautiful Girls.”
The Salt Lake City show isn’t the first time Sheeran has surprised fans with a cover of “Stand by Me,” taking on the track solo at a 2013 wedding.
The “Thinking Out Loud” singer is headlining his own arena tour across North America. Kweller joined as a last-minute opener when original opener Foy Vance was unable to start the tour due to immigration issues. Kweller has performed in Albany and Pittsburgh prior to the Salt Lake City show. Vance is set to return for the North American dates on May 23rd in Uncasville, Connecticut. The tour runs through September 10th, though Sheeran will make a pit stop in Kansas City, Missouri to open for the Rolling Stones on their Zip Code tour.
King passed away earlier this month at the age of 76. “Stand by Me” has been widely covered since its release in 1960, having been interpreted and reimagined by everyone from Otis Redding to Miley Cyrus. At Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards, Imagine Dragons paid tribute to King with their own intimate take on the track.