Since it was sold out show, and since I’ve not quite figured out whether Ezra’s main demographic is middle-aged fans-of-deep-southern-country-folk men (tall), or teenage fans-of-clean-shaven-young-man-in-plain-tee-shirt-holding-guitar girls (short), I head down to The Duchess early to get a good spot. The support is a similar young man with a guitar – Dan Cook – but he lacks the originality and eccentricity that is so patent in the headliner that follows. It’s as though all his songs have existed before, and it seems a little unfair to accentuate quite how compelling Ezra’s music is by preceding it with something so mediocre.
Ezra’s set is compelling indeed. There old songs, and those from the Budapest EP that caught the critics’ attention – ‘Benjamin Twine‘ in particular has a delicious passion live. Most exciting, though, are the new unheard songs from Ezra’s forthcoming album. Details are yet to be announced, but it seems as though it’ll be just as catchy and soulful as all offerings to date.
Before the album’s released, there’s another EP due in March, from which ‘Cassy O‘ and ‘Get Lonely With Me’ are taken, the latter of which swaggers and commands in such a small venue. Throughout the set, it becomes increasingly evident that Ezra is a very nice man, and in real life would probably never utter the command ‘get down, get lonely with me’. He introduces the crowd to his sound man, his tour manager and his sister, who presides over the merch stall. Though, when he’s such a talented and pleasant person, and so worth championing, it’s a shame that most of his merch clothes look like the latest bland range of H&M geometric prints for a bland range of men to wear on the beach in Malia. His souvenirs are not doing his show justice.
Nonetheless, he rounds off with ‘Budapest‘, which gets an unrequested sing-a-long (because it is impossibly infectious and thus unavoidable). It’s followed finally by ‘Did You Hear The Rain?‘, which really does prove the magnitude of his voice. It thunders and rumbles through the crowd as though it hardly needs the sound system; I want to be lying down on a sofa and let it bellow over me. It’s surprisingly portentous, and although it’s made for an exhilarating finish, I almost wish his entire set could take this tone.
Ezra’s back in the area on 26th February, playing The Wardrobe in Leeds. It’s sold out, but worth hunting down a ticket somehow. Before too long he’ll be playing venues too big to let you believe the microphone might not even be switched on.By Alice Lawrence