Before going to see George Ezra this weekend I knew very little about him aside from loving his three radio hits, and that his bluesy voice didn’t match his youthful appearance.
Watching the roadies set up for George Ezra’s performance I was a little concerned. They brought on a couple of props – a rugged-looking round carpet and a pile of dusty suitcases – no doubt alluding to the fact that Ezra wrote most of his album on a trip around Europe. It seemed gimmicky and silly – did he need that stuff to keep us interested?
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Two songs into his set he sent his band offstage and sang with nothing but a spotlight and his guitar as backup for a few numbers. Ezra’s act is based on talent, plain and simple.
His throaty voice brought a hushed silence over the crowd at the Big Top Arena at Carnival City, which seemed to include two factions: the teens, who chose the standing room area in front of the stage, and the over-30’s like myself who opted for a comfy seat where we could avoid the hormonal hoards.
This is not to say that the over-30s weren’t completely won over by his boyish charm and sexy voice. At one point a woman to my right, who must’ve been close to 50, suddenly yelled “I love you George”, much to the dismay her husband.
The first song Ezra performed solo was the Bob Dylan classic, Girl From the North Country, which elicited a cheer from his pre-pubescent followers. His love of folk seems to have brought Dylan’s style into the consciousness of younger music fans in the same way Glee did when it introduced them to artists like Journey and Billy Joel.
Ezra’s songs have catchy, clever lyrics and rely heavily on a voice that would seem more at home coming from a man twice his age. He held the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout his show, which was no mean feat after everyone had been worked into a frenzy by Freshlyground, whose live act is polished to perfection. 5FM managed to secure the Afro-pop heavyweights for Joburg while Beatenberg opened for Ezra in Cape Town.
My advice: if you don’t know who George Ezra is, go and listen to some of his music.
Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you will be impressed by the rich, raw quality of his voice and his song-writing abilities. It’ll also give you hope about where today’s music fans place their admiration – sometimes it’s not all about songs you can twerk to.