The last time I saw George Ezra live he was little more than a man with a guitar playing to a half empty tent of partly engaged patrons in a field somewhere. It’s barely worth mentioning the astronomic journey he’s been on to arrive at a packed Shoreditch Town Hall on the crest of his sophomore album – that’s been well enough documented.
In his first live show of 2018, playing a relatively intimate venue for someone of his status, Ezra can best be described as ‘comfortable’, and rightly so. With fans singing along word-perfect to pretty much every song (including many unreleased tracks – thanks, internet), this was a pretty safe engagement. Opening with his latest single, Paradise, his confidence is apparent. It plays out like a familiar classic and instantly sets the tone for the evening.
Of course, tried and tested hits such as Cassy O’, and Blame It On Me whip the crowd into a predictable frenzy, but new tracks from his forthcoming album Staying At Tamara’s manage to maintain the same energy. A particular standout was the anthemic Hold My Girl, which has all the hallmarks of a late lifecycle single (if you’re reading this in August 2018, it’s probably made its way onto the Radio 1 A-List by now).
He and his band are about as polished as it gets, perfectly balanced and visibly accustomed to playing as a tight ensemble. At 7-strong and barely squeezing onto the stage, it is clear they have outgrown venues of this scale, yet it felt special to witness George Ezra in such close contact at this stage in his career, before the looming tour of much larger spaces.
This is a man clearly well used to being adored, and his on stage patter treads flirtatiously on the line between humility and arrogance, but he is just about likeable enough to get away with it. I particularly appreciated his mocking of the fallacy of the encore, explaining before his “last” song that the logistics of getting everyone off stage through a tiny gap in a curtain, only to reappear moments later, was beyond the scope of practicality. Instead, he asks that the audience just applauds wildly and begs for more whilst they stand in blackout.
They wilfully comply, and his “encore” of Budapest brings the house down and everyone to their feet (including a previously would-be Prime Minister a few rows behind me who shall remain nameless). If this was to serve as a test run for his upcoming tour, then fans are in for a treat.