George Ezra at The Academy – Review and Photos
Giddy howls meet the stage crew as they test numerous guitars. This is my first time in the Academy and I am beyond impressed. I had before heard from friends that “no matter where you’re standing you feel so close, so involved”, and finally, I can say that I agree. Intimacy is a gig quality that I revere. Therefore, I already know that tonight, with this desirable setting and Ezra’s powerful husk of a voice, will be a special one.
The supporting Rae Morris delivers a flawless performance. Her voice sends shivers down my spine; frosty and sweet with a hint of rasp. Her astonishing range that dazzles, especially during every ‘aaah’, is mesmerizing. From behind her keyboard she bops along with an everlasting smile. ‘Cold’ and ‘Do You Even Know’ stand out as two of my favourites, both catchy, ingenious songs. With a mix of synth, double bass, drums, keyboards and electric guitar, her act is unique and superb – one that I certainly recommend.
Seemingly calm and collected, the musician of the night ambles into view with his band in tow. He cracks a smile at the room, establishing his amiable presence. Ezra and his ensemble swing into the delightful ‘Cassy O’’. Although I am already aware of his vocal skill, I can’t help but gasp at just how lethal his voice sounds, building from the depths of his chest only to hit off every single wall in the Academy.
The gig is utter revelry; with every individual calling out the chorus “oh oh oh oh”s, twisting and dancing to this phenomenal tune. During more tender moments, Ezra shuts his eyes, absorbed in the moment, and as a result he draws us in.
Enjoyment is the key word. In the opening I even catch the drummer grinning feverishly. The tambourine clinks and Ezra, embodying a born entertainer, yelps. These joyous vibes lift my soul. I would not wish to be anywhere else but here, at this merry festivity.
“Thank you” Ezra beams, then giggles.
The Hetford lad labels ‘Stand By Your Gun’ as the song he was “most excited about playing with a band”. I can absolutely see why as the atmosphere electrifies from this full sound. The bass is impeccable (with a kind of tone similar to the 1975) and the rhythm eccentric. Glancing around I note that there’s a major age range in the audience – reflecting the fact that Ezra’s timeless voice and his undeniable talent are appealing to anyone and everyone.
Ezra does not fail to interact with the crowd – such as when he encourages the audience to act as his choir as well as giving background explanation to ‘Barcelona’ – which, in my eyes, is a highlight song. This particular tune feels other worldly, whisking me away to some lovely summer day. There’s an easing sensation as breathtaking and entrancing notes float from the guitar, providing a heavenly platform for Ezra’s exceptionally sultry vocals. And sultry he is, oozing with a cool (that is notably never pretentious) as he cradles his guitar with an immense groove during ‘Get Lonely With Me’. For anyone who thinks Ezra to lack musical diversity, I urge you to listen to ‘Spectacular Rival’. It is mellow and more fueled with rock – overall, darker, but brilliant.
In those moments of anticipation for Ezra’s encore return, the ‘Olé’ chants are penetrating. This is a savage night for all, and so we yearn for every minute more.
“Go on you sexy bastard!” one burly man roars.
The encore contains what will undoubtedly remain as the highlight of my week – Ezra’s rendition of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. This is, hands down, one of the best live covers that I have ever heard. The energy is simply palpable. This moment is an adequate representation of the night – how the incredible George Ezra has entered into our lives, pumped every vein in the Academy, and, as a result, left it bursting with life. What a spectacle.