Viewing the gig of one of the UK's biggest popstars through the eyes of an indie fan (14 April 2022).
Is George Ezra indie I hear you ask? Well, he must be. When he burst onto the scene he did so on the likes of Radio X/XFM along with the likes of James Bay who could also be added into this equation.
Ezra also plays guitar. Sometimes it’s an electric one as well. And he sings. He’s done festivals, and not just the niche ones where you get stalls selling vegan brie. Proper ones, with proper bands. He was on the main stage of the first TRNSMT right before Catfish and the Bottlemen. They’re indie. But he’s also sold a billion records. Okay, not quite but he was in the top five highest-selling albums on the UK in both 2018 and 2019.
It’s at that point where you start to question if he really is alternative, as if there’s a benchmark of success our heroes can’t reach and conquer. Anyway he’s back. With a new album entitled Gold Rush Kid set to drop in the summer, he hit the road for a really tiny mini-tour at big grand old school theatres. Like The Kings Theatre in Edinburgh that had to be swapped for the Usher Hall after Ezra was hit with that dreaded condition starting with the letter ‘C.’ That’s right, chickenpox.
He’s not got an indie crowd, that’s certain. There’s someone wearing an IDLES T-shirt but apart from that the audience is far more reserved than what you’d expect for an indie show. There are no queues for the bar. There’s no queues for the cubicles in the toilets. Instead, parents sit next to kids in an entirely seated set-up.
Before he arrives in stage the PA sets the scene with a bit of Kings of Leon. Then he’s there, centre stage, surrounded by backing singers and a band, wearing a cowboy-style shirt.
‘Anyone For You (Tiger Lily)’ gets the show underway and any fear that his fans won’t take to his new song vanish when the crowd enthusiastically sings along. ‘Barcelona’ takes things back a laid back notch and he has the audience lapping up the banter with his misty-eyed tales of the local area. He’s surely the first singer to proclaim a love for Peebles.
Ezra is very likeable. He doesn’t mind taking the Mickey out of himself while sprinkling his anecdotes with the F-Bomb. You get the feeling that there’s going to be a bit of explaining to the younger members in attendance when the lights go up.
Before then there’s a set mainly consisting of material from his first two albums. ‘Did You Hear The Rain’ shows off his gravely blues tinged vocals. ‘Hold My Girl’ is one of those gentle moments that if Noel Gallagher had written it we’d be more inclined to admit our admiration for while ‘Budapest’ makes a very welcome appearance.
The whole thing speeds through at pace. It feels like he’s hardly been on stage long enough to leave but he does returning for a two-song encore. ‘Cassy O’ bounces along before he finishes with ‘Shotgun’ the song that propelled him into fully-fledged stardom.
So, is George Ezra indie? Is he trendy? Is he going to make Brixton buckle under the weight of cool? No.
But what he’s going to make is the type of music that gets in your head and stays there, hidden. Occasionally popping up to touch an emotional nerve when you least expect it. And it’s relatable even if he’s written it in St Lucia. Which I have no idea where it is but it sounds posh. Posher than Peebl