Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman


“I love music, like I never ever get sick of it and even when I feel like I am going to, something out there just surprises me. It’s like life in a way.” These are the words Ezra says tonight, as he draws his set to a close. It is an apt point he makes as tonight’s performance in a pub is definitely one of those surprises. The night before he had played to millions on Later with Jools Holland, but here he is treating just 70 people to a show like no other. As he said it so eloquently himself, this is what music is about.

With a new album due in June, this is the perfect opportunity for Ezra to show some new and mostly old songs to a crowd, who would not hold back from airing their views clearly and frankly. Promptly at 9.30PM, Ezra makes it on to the stage. For some, this timely nature is unexpected as when he was last in Manchester, it was nearly an hour after the declared set-time that he finally made it on to the stage. But, tonight he was on time and ready to thrill, shouting ‘are we doing this?’ before launching into his show.

Beads swing frantically around his neck and his shirt with the words ‘Some girls are just born lucky’ emblazoned upon it wins many plaudits. However, incredibly enough he is not the stand-out dresser in his band, as the sax player has a man bag strung around his chest and flared jeans dotted with silver pins lining his legs.

The start is so good, that I actually forgot that I was here to review the gig as I was simply having too much fun. Then the notebook came out, as I made notes about how fantastic tonight’s opener ‘Day of the Dog’ is sounding. Suddenly it comes to an end before the recognisable riff from ‘Anything Can Happen’ sounds out and throws us into a new environment; one identified by the mishmash punk and funk that Ezra has truly made his own.

‘And Maybe God Is A Train’ comes next, again quite literally throwing us on a train and sending us off down another route, which is just as exciting as Ezra jumps with his feet turned in and the saxophonist blares out jazzy solos. What is by far his best new song, in my view, ‘Lousy Connection’ then makes its appearance, with its beatles-esque catchiness managing to lift the mood even further.

‘Walk On In Darkness’ is a good message for everyone and one Ezra has clearly adopted himself, after he attempted suicide earlier on in his life; a tale which he retells on the heart-wrenchingly honest ‘I Killed Myself But I Didn’t Die.’ However, this is ‘Walk On In Darkness’ and it is upbeat, a lot of fun and has lots of great Sax parts. In fact, it’s so good that Ezra can barely stay still and, as he jumps around he nearly knocks over his amplifier.

Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman

After telling us that Jools Holland has moist hands, Ezra launches into the ‘chirpy chirpy cheap cheap’-sounding ‘Caroline Jones’. It is a b-side, although really it should have been much much more as it has a fantastic whistling solo and great backing vocals; it truly represents how this band perform as one. In line with the Jools mention, he then goes on to play ‘Restless Year’, the song he so fantastically treated a huge TV audience to the night before as he stood confidently in a red dress with bold red lipstick on. It was a great trans-gender message and one we should all get behind.

With its mundane lyrics about watching TV and lousing in his apartment, ‘Slacker Adria’ is very Courtney Barnett and again stays on the TV trend with Ezra mentioning that ‘he looked cool on TV’ and you know what, he really did. Away from the TV, we get a much bigger grasp on the band’s live skill when they run into sound problems. Here, the band fill a huge space as Ezra tunes his guitar by providing us with a one off jam which helps to keep the groove moving perfectly.

‘I wanna destroy myself’ sees Ezra and his bandmate play the role of patient and councillor as Ezra recalls a trip to the therapist, where he said those words that somehow became one of his most recognisable songs. Tonight he changes his admission to one which simply says I just wanna form a band and thank god he did, as this song is perilous and nearly as strong as the original admission.

Following this with ‘Tell Them All To Go To Hell’ is perfect, as it illustrates just how Ezra learnt to walk on in darkness and put those thoughts to the back of his mind. It is immensely joyful and the saxophone just as much as the lyrics represents how Ezra overcame those problems.

His final song is a surprise. It is a cover of Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ and again seems to illustrate Ezra’s personal achievement of lifting himself above depression and suicidal thoughts. It is a great ending and shows Ezra’s unique skill to make a cover cool, when most covers just leave us wanting the artist to play another of their own songs.

He leaves to a rabble of noise, and some words that he said earlier ring out in my mind. He said, ‘stuff like this happens once and then that’s it, it never happens again.’ That is certainly true of tonight, never again will we see Ezra Furman perform in a 70 capacity pub and for that we are truly blessed. I am sure at one point, this memory will help us all to walk on in darkness and come out the other end smiling. Cheers Ezra.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.