Review: George Ezra, O2 Academy

“Good things come to those who wait” – it would appear that George Ezra obviously didn’t get that memo.

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Since the release of his first EP Did You Hear the Rain? in October 2013, Ezra has ridden the back of a tidal wave of support, highlighted by his breakthrough performance on the John Peel Stage at this years Glastonbury Festival.

Songs like “Budapest”, “Blame it on the Rain” and “Cassey O” have been massive mainstream hits and taken the 21 year old from Hertford from virtual obscurity a year ago, to the top of the UK and world charts.

If this whirlwind of overnight success wasn’t enough the fact that he looks like, and in some countries would indeed be considered, a minor makes the story all the more remarkable.

Whilst much of his persona is juvenile and still in development it is without doubt his unfathomably developed vocal and sound that have marked him out from the crowd. Howling with the gruffness of his idols Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, Ezra sounds like a grizzled veteran of the Greenwich, NY, music scene that spawned his two heroes rather than the rap spitting, Dubstepers of his peer group.

His fan base is also already far more developed than that of other bands/performers in the embryonic stages of their careers, and they wait patiently for over 2 hours before Ezra even takes the stage.

With all this success it can’t be easy for the young man to keep his feet on the ground, especially when one considers that he takes the stage each night with his name towering 30ft over him in neon lights, like Elvis at his 1968 comeback special. Yet, he speaks softy and appears genuinely modest in his statements throughout the evening – even suggesting that anyone who has been dragged along to watch him tonight checks out an amusing video on YouTube that sees him being covered in excrement and run over by a car.

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The University of Bristol dropout’s take on blue grass and country rattles along like an old Mississippi bound rail car, to which he adds romantically forlorn lyrics that suggest George has been around the block more times than seems possible at his age. Mostly written on his inter-railing trip across Europe, the likes of “Budapest” (“I’d leave it all”) or “Did You Hear the Rain?” (“You cause me to weep, you cause me to moan”) speak of sadness and wisdom rarely seen in one so young.

Throwing in a cover of Cindy Laupers “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” lightens the mood from all this sullenness, and is clearly a play to the galleries of girls who have flocked to the show, but cant hide the anguish that Ezra exudes in his music.

Still a work in progress George Ezra has the makings of a star for years to come, if we can only keep up.

Find out more here.

7/10

Words by Kevin McGough

Photos by Will Fahy

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