George Ezra – The Duchess (York, UK – February 12, 2014)
I heard George Ezra’s music before I saw him. When I did see him I did the same double take I did the first time I saw Ben Ottewell of Gomez – I expected an older, grizzled, whiskey-drinking bluesman who grew up in the Delta, rode the rails, and other cliches. I was pleasantly surprised to see a young guy who just happens to have a deep, bluesy growl of a voice.
I travelled down on the windiest, rainiest night (for northern England at least) of February and spent the entire gig squelching in my shoes.
Firstly, the venue. I saw an excellent Laura Veirs show here years ago, but it’s not the kind of venue I relish – essentially a bar with a low stage at one end, low ceiling, standing room only and post-apocalyptic toilets. I think this type of venue encourages talking, drinking and more talking. I don’t, and will never, understand people who pay to go into a music venue and talk as there are plenty of places to go for free to do this without disturbing people who are there for the music. As this was a 14+ show, there was a murmuration of teenagers a little ahead of me continuously talking, taking selfies, posting Facebook updates…grrr!
Secondly, the sound. I initially stood close to the stage but had to move back as it was very loud – maybe to rise above the constant chatter?
Edit: I’ve just read what I have written so far and I sound so old! Bad weather, being wet, too loud, too much talking, kids on their phones, no seats…pah!
Thirdly, George was amazing. Armed with just his guitar and his voice, he was mesmerising, and even managed to quiet some of the talking. He engaged well with the crowd and seemed to unconsciously play blues licks on his guitar while he spoke about writing and recording material for an album, touring, travelling, song inspirations and his sister (who was managing his merch table).
George played many songs I had never heard that bode well for future releases, including those from his upcoming ‘Cassy O’ EP. He closed his set with ‘Budapest’ and ‘Did You Hear The Rain?’ (my personal favourite) with the crowd joining in on the woohoos as if they were years-old classics. The final line of “Lucifer’s inside” ringing out as both a declaration and a warning.