Two dates into his tour of Australia and New Zealand, George Ezra played to a full house of 10,000 on a balmy Sunday night at Riverstage in Brisbane, Australia.
The last 12 months have seen a massive jump in the artist’s stocks, thanks to his sophomore album, Staying at Tamara’s, which has become a global hit. So it was expected that the bulk of the setlist was culled from the record.
Eves Karydas, who’s touring her debut album Summerskin, opens proceedings with the sun still shining. She took care of the singing and dancing, flanked by a lone keyboard player and a drummer triggering samples. Her set’s highlights included “Balance” (which should be a single), an amped-up take on “Wildest Ones” and radio favorite “Further Than the Planes Fly.” A mid-set surprise was a killer cover of Kylie Minogue’s 2001 smash, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”
The venue was in fine voice before Ezra arrived, having sung along to the likes of The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Van Morrison and T-Rex—kudos to the DJ for their work between sets. By the time the sun dropped, Ezra and co had virtually bounced on stage, dressed head to toe in black, and kicked things off with “Get Away.” The traditional guitars, drums, bass and keyboard setup had been augmented with a two-piece horn section, and bringing brass was worth every cent as they punctuated the songs with just the right amount of swagger all night.
As a frontman, Ezra trades in the brand of self-deprecation also peddled by the likes of Chris Martin. The songs, he tells us, are about escaping and dreaming, and were inspired by the month he took off staying at—you guessed it—an Airbnb owned by a woman named Tamara.
In concert, Ezra is first-rate. The new material is so deeply embedded with his audience that the gig rolled out like a perfect wave. The album’s opening salvo “Pretty Shining People” was the night’s first big sing-along, and the crowd didn’t let up from there. Ezra’s band showed they could swing on “Listen to the Man,” while the shimmering electric guitar on “Saviour” could make even Chris Isaak envious. In a moment recalling The Last Shadow Puppets, “Saviour” morphed into the heaviest song of the night, “Did You Hear the Rain?”
The set went through tempo shifts: The ballad “Hold My Girl” benefited from added violin, while Ezra went into crooner mode for “All My Love.” And he was in fine storytelling form as he paused to describe writing his ode to America’s West Coast, “Paradise.”
By the end, there was nowhere to go but to play “Shotgun.” Sitting pretty at number one on the ARIA Singles Chart for weeks, the song is much loved, even if it isn’t the best tune on the album. Still, it hardly matters. Ezra brings “Shotgun” home, wrapping up the young songwriter’s masterclass in pop performance.
Contributed by: Sean Sennett