LIVE REVIEW: George Ezra, Ideal Bar, 20.03.14

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I have to admit, I’m sceptical of the George Ezra hype. Since featuring on the BBC Sound of 2014 Poll, he’s been catapulted onto the musical radar of “ones to watch”, and I can’t help but think it’s all a bit unsubstantiated. Unoriginal (although admittedly cheery and catchy) guitar pop? Really? That’s the new sound of 2014? But with an open mind I made my way to a sold-out Ideal Bar in Vega to make my judgement based on more than a Radio 1 interview and a few plays of ‘Cassy’O’. I’m now happy (and surprised) to admit I could not have invested my hour any better. I took a chance on the boy, and the boy done good.

When I first saw a press shot of Ezra, I thought they’d perhaps made a mistake, or the photo was a decade old; there was no way his Eoin Loveless resembling mug matched that deep husky voice. And here was that fresh faced blonde, in the flesh, opening his mouth to reveal a delicious, reverberating vocal. From opening track ‘Blame It On Me’ to the end, Ezra’s voice was unfaltering, perfect, in falsetto imitating an absent female chorus on ‘Leaving It Up To You’ or smooth a cappella on the long intro to final number ‘Did You Hear The Rain’. Rich, gooey and accompanied with a perfect dash of cigarette grime. Many artists fail to live up to their on record vocal flawlessness when performing live, but Ezra’s singles don’t do him justice.

And then there’s the aura. Yet again, I was expecting to be remarkably underwhelmed. But his witty anecdotes into each song’s scribbled origins, that could have become so inane, remained charming for the gig entire. When performing solo acoustic guitar pop, it must be quite tricky not to become boring, but Ezra showed up originality and tangible charisma on his renditions of the unreleased numbers. He acknowledges the support of the crowd, but doesn’t go overboard on the whole “look at how humble and thankful I am” spiel. He is beautifully, effortlessly, no-nonsense cool; a chilled temperament without any try-hard affectation.

George Ezra’s live show completes the disjointed package that his singles and press packs offer. The voice is richer, the demeanour is cooler, and the chat is more interesting. There’s no denying that acoustic solo pop is an old trade, and one with which it’s hard to be creative, but an hour with this guitar spindling 20 year old proves it’s possible to make it highly entertaining.