Seeing Ezra Furman perform at the John Peel Centre (Stowmarket, Suffolk) last night was an extraordinary pleasure, one that I hadn’t anticipated would be so outstanding.
The Chicago-born singer-songwriter has a stage presence that equates the power of his music and to watch this for yourself is the only way to fully appreciate where I am coming from. He’s charismatic, attentive and charming nature is always engaging, his demeanor accessible and his look often characterised by a dress, make-up and painted red lips. There are no defining lines with this young man for he strays into realms of his own, taking with him his songs of his anger, joy, depression, and his Jewish faith. What you can depend on, however, is that whatever comes out of his songwriting stems from deep rooted origins, always heartfelt and fearlessly honest.
What Ezra Furman is not afraid to do is share his struggles and experiences with mental illness and personal woe, his songs often tackling subjects such as identity, politics, love, loneliness, and instability. His music is often fierce and frenzied but is also contrasted with slow, gentle crooning songs which gives a healthly balance and interesting diversity to his repertoire.
His style is hard to define for there are obvious links to the past where Doo-wop and fifties skiffle meets sixties garage and blues, but this is not where it stops. His sound is also characterised by the honking saxophone which equally drives the songs just as the lead guitar does and with identical gusto.
Appearing almost 8 years ago, Furman is no stranger to the music scene but it is only now, all these years later, that he has started to gain more recognition. Beginning in 2007 he released three albums as “Ezra Furman and the Harpoons” before going it alone.
His first solo album titled ‘The Year of No Returning’ was not only self-released but crowd funded with money for the album raised through Kickstarter.
In 2013 Ezra Furman and the Harpoons released their second album titled ‘Day of the Dog’ and this is where the first of today’s ‘songs of the day’ originates. Reminiscent of Buddy Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’, Furmans’ At the Bottom of the Ocean’ was one of the songs of the show that really stood out for me last night.
This month sees the release of his third solo album, ‘Perpetual Motion People’ which is the first to come from his newly signed label, Bella Union.
Equating the raw energy from his previous releases, this album not only matches the tempo of his 2011 ‘Mysterious Power’ but incorporates previous themes of struggle with tracks like “Haunted Head” and “Can I Sleep in Your Brain?” demonstrating this. Sometimes his performance is theatrical in nature and, with the Rock n Roll element thrown in, I found myself comparing parts of his performance to The Rocky Horror Picture Show! Today’s second song also comes from this latest release and is titled, ‘Wobbly’
Watching Ezra Furman perform is utterly captivating, his visually exciting and unpredictable antics make it impossible to take your eyes off him. Between each song he casually interacts with the audience explaining his music in an often quirky and playful manner. One sentence I remember goes a little something like this, “Everyone says that it’s a small world and life is short, but life is long, life is very long and the world is a big place”.. There is so much going on with Ezra Furman and it is through his music that we are offered the opportunity to explore his intriguing character which, once discovered, will certainly leave you wanting more..
Catch Ezra Furman on tour now:
Wednesday 8th July – GUILDFORD – Boileroom
Thursday 9th July – STOWMARKET – John Peel Centre
Friday 10th July – MIDDLESBOROUGH – Westgarth Social
Sunday 12th July – GLASGOW – Broadcast Monday 13th July – BEDFORD – Esquires
Tursday 14th July – SOUTHAMPTON – Joiners
Monday 19th October – BELFAST – Limelight 2
Tuesday 20th October – DUBLIN – Workman’s Club Wednesday 21st October – LEEDS – Brudenell
Thursday 22nd October – LONDON – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire Saturday 14th November – BRISTOL – Fleece
Sunday 15th November – LIVERPOOL – Arts Club Monday 16th November – MANCHESTER – Gorilla
Tuesday 17th November – GLASGOW – Art School Wednesday 18th November – NOTTINGHAM – Glee Club