One of music’s biggest crossover artists to make an impact on venues across the country, as well as the charts, is Bristol’s George Ezra. Singles Cassy O’ and Budapest had already placed him in a great position by the time his album Wanted On Voyage rolled around at the end of June, but no one could have predicted it soaring to number three initially, and then coming back in for a number one in October. All in all, it’s been a mammoth year for George.
Therefore it’s interesting to see him visit Newcastle University’s Student’s Union, a club packing less than a thousand fans. The noise levels certainly felt like a few thousand at least. The crowd were treated to the gem that is Rae Morris, who has been up in the North East plenty of times this year playing with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and playing solo shows. The stage was lit up warm brown’s and yellow’s which fits Rae’s gorgeously affirming music very well as she played hits like Closer and the Fryars collaboration Cold. Around 9pm we hear something fairly odd.
Burl Ives’ rendition of civil war folk song Goober Peas plays out as George and his band take to the stage. It’s a testament to George’s real interest in early 20th century folk roots, as his voice has certainly been likened to musicians of that time. He begins with a massive rendition of Cassy O’ which sets the place alight almost instantly, people shouting back the O’s in the chorus. George then gets to work playing through Wanted On Voyage with tracks like Listen To The Man, Leave It Up To You and Drawing Board getting screams from girls in the front row.
New single Blame It On Me creates a sea of mobile phones recording the moment. George plays a silencing rendition of Breakaway and the guitar whines on Barcelona sizzle like the Spanish sun itself. There’s a late treat in Stand By Your Gun which makes George sound like a pop star, with ease. He then closes his set with Budapest which of course has the biggest response of the night. After a few minutes he returns to stage to create more pop moments with a cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which oddly works perfectly.
To finish off his set, George plays Did You Hear The Rain, which sounds absolutely awesome when the electric guitar kicks in. The crowd disperse quickly, but from the moment George Ezra stepped on the stage to the closing moments of Did You Hear The Rain, they were utterly captivated and enjoying every moment. It might be the last time you’ll see George perform a venue this intimate in the North East, but either way he’s welcome back anytime.
words by Scott Hastie