Released in the summer of 2015, Ezra Furman’s ‘Perpetual Motion People’ was the breath of fresh air we’d all been waiting for. A combination of explosive sax solos and frenzied guitar riffs, this album is bizarre and colourful- a sound that truly reflects Furman’s unique creativity.

It comes as no surprise then that the venue is sold out. Since his last tour, Ezra’s return to the UK has been eagerly awaited by a growing number of enthusiastic fans, and tonight he plays Brighton’s Concorde 2.

Furman gives us a shy, unassuming wave as he walks onstage, adjusting his pearls before moving to the microphone. He opens with a speech. Set to a slow bass rhythm, his words are gradually joined by drums and guitar before he launches into the chaotic sounds of ‘Restless Year’.

Although the set is focused on material from his last two albums, Ezra also finds space to include some older songs as well as the B side ‘Caroline Jones’. He even treats us to a new track: ‘this next one is at 299 BPM. Not really, but that’s how I feel about it anyways.’

A little later and a convulsing Ezra Furman is lying onstage singing ‘Hark! to the music’- it’s clear that the chaotic energy of his album isn’t lost during the live performance, much to our relief – but possibly not his.

Towards the second half of the set Ezra plays some quieter numbers whilst his band takes a breather offstage. Stripped back and completely saxophone-free, this moment gives us the chance to see Furman at his most delicate and witness the inspiring lyrics which set him apart from other neo-soul acts. Despite the change in tone, these songs do not make the atmosphere seem stagnant- more than a few mouths drop during his performance of ‘Cherry Lane’, which he dedicates to ‘the folk out there who are homeless’.

The band quickly picks up the pace again before finishing their set with ‘Walk on in Darkness’ and ‘I Wanna Destroy Myself’. Returning for encore, they cover Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’- imagine it with more jazz and three times faster and you’re almost there- and finish with ‘Tell ‘em All to Go to Hell’.   

The gig leaves no one feeling disappointed. Unapologetically honest, Ezra Furman is a real gem to watch onstage and a truly imaginative individual- reflected in the words he sings, the music he plays and the ‘all of him’ he gives to his audience and anyone else who will take it.  

 

Jess Porter

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