herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

TALENTED EZRA CLIMBS HIS WAY TO THE TOP

GEORGE EZRA

'Ezra' is the name on the backdrop. You've heard of young George, right? The Hertfordshire lad with the syrupy baritone and boyband good looks has been making noise for a while now, first with the release of chart favourite, Budapest (never off the radio) and eventually, debut album, Wanted on Voyage (a UK number one). Another sweetly-sung folkster born out of time? Perhaps, but George Ezra (21) certainly knows his way around a chorus.

Tonight, at a sold-out Academy, that broken smile of his is enough to reduce a predominantly female crowd to mush. Bluesy, stylish and quietly confident, there's no X Factor story here; just an affable young player climbing up the ladder with good tunes and solid showmanship.

The infectious Cassy O' tells us George ain't no one-hit-wonder. A three-piece backing unit fills in the blanks as our leading boy shuffles from indie-folk groove- shaker to reflective, song and dance man.

It says a lot about his likeability that, even when discussing album recordings, Ezra (inset) holds our attention.

Those sunny, effervescent melodies were made for sound-tracking films. Leaving It Up to You was originally recorded with a choir, so tonight, the fans are asked to put in a little overtime. "Forget the choir, come with me," says George, delighted with our input. I wonder if he thought the same after Budapest (careful with those high notes, folks).

An enthralling vocalist, George Ezra might yet have the makings of a strident rock 'n' roll man (things get loud on Spectacular Rival). But he's also quite the pop star, and that unexpected cover of Girls Just Want to Have Fun is a hoot. 'Ezra' is the name on the backdrop - we won't be forgetting it any time soon. HHHHi

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