Hertford troubadour George Ezra took to the stage of Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms, small underground venue at 9 o’clock sharp, Friday night. Arriving to a packed club full of passionate fans and hollering fangirls, the 21 year old artist took it in his stride, effortlessly jumping straight into his collection of bluesy, eccentric tracks. Having only one EP to his name and a handful of singles, you’d think this would be a new showcase for the Edinburgh crowd. On the contrary, Ezra had the energetic crowd singing lyrics back at him, hailing him as the underground indie-pop hero he’s rapidly become.
As George carries on through his set he reveals his varied discography. ‘Leaving It Up to You’ is a tune full of regret with contrasting upbeat, near Afrobeat guitar riffs which reaches a crescendo with Ezra’s powerful voice carries the chorus across the adoring crowd. Then there’s ‘Coat of Armour’ a stadium ready emotional, soulful track. It’s a rare talent to switch so quickly between starkly different song styles, but it’s a skill that Ezra has quickly learnt to perfection.
As the night progresses, Ezra mentions that his sister is running the merch stand, showing that things are still very much a low key, family affair, before launching into the song title on the back of said merch,‘Cassy O’. It’s a delicate performance that’s met with passionate sing-alongs and admiration from his loyal crowd.
Ezra’s set is one that flows effortlessly from crooning to intricate, stylish guitar solos. The most compelling parts are undeniably when the backing band departs the stage throughout the course of the night, leaving Ezra and his guitar alone. It’s a tough situation for any performer but the quirky songwriter takes it in his stride, taking full command of the intimate venue with his distinctly powerful vocals and unique riffs and hooks. Ezra ended his set with stand out hit, ‘Budapest’. An abstract, upbeat musing on the tribulations of modern love, it’s a memorable pitch perfect performance that truly shows what this young artist is capable of.
However it’s arguably his encore where Ezra truly proves he’s worth his salt with ‘Did You Hear the Rain?’, a ballsy, guitar driven, galloping blues track, taken from last year’s debut EP of the same name, that’s a little more intense than his other works. With his distinct crooning and powerful, commanding guitar style Woodie Guthrie comparisons are unavoidable, and rightfully so. Delivered with passion and skill it shows great promise for the upcoming release of debut album, ‘Wanted On Voyage’.
Overall, Ezra symbolizes an interesting divergence in the modern British singer-songwriter scene, looking to classic Americana he creates an interestingly retrospective cocktail. It’s a mixture of music that delves into influences from the finest songwriting of the past century, whilst combining it with a modern British indie twist creating a characteristically different and exciting sound. Such effortless blending of genres combined with energetic stage presence and a perfect live performance all lay out high hopes for this rising indie star.
Words: Charlie Jaco