Is it possible to say anything negative about George Ezra? He just seems like such a nice bloke. He ambles on to the large stage at Manchester’s cavernous O2 Apollo this evening sporting a beaming smile, arms aloft, waving to the full house who have just collaborated brilliantly with an impromptu and utterly committed Oasis sing-a-long moments earlier. The twenty-four year old has good reason to be happy; his second release Staying at Tamara’s has just been confirmed as UK’s number one album and it is the fastest selling record of 2018 to boot. No sophomore jinx here then!
The playful Cassy O’ opens the evening’s celebrations and immediately allows the partisan audience to continue providing their own willing vocals during the chorus. The upbeat approach continues with Get Away, melding slick reggae stylings with his usual pop sensibilities, all delivered with that rich, velvety baritone which is demonstrated at its most sweetly, satisfying best when Barcelona follows. These opening tracks are full of colour, blessed with a summery constitution that makes you forget we’re still several months away from our own dog days.
When the introspective Pretty Shining People concludes Ezra is genuinely taken aback by the crowd’s fervent level of participation. “You know all the words!” he exclaims. It is certainly impressive for a record released just seven days ago. Listen to the Man is also blessed with a chorus that demands hands are raised and waved as we all sing along with George and this demonstrates the prowess of the evening’s set list; on the whole it’s an utterly positive and animated affair led by a sanguine and generous host who provides little self-deprecating insights into the informal songwriting process as he goes. After the more dramatic Saviour we’re back on familiar ground with the playful Don’t Matter Now followed by the dazzling brilliance of Paradise which, we’re informed, lay undiscovered on a phone for six months after the melody was saved during an illness on board a tour bus in the United States.
The set has really rattled along at pace but is allowed to drop a gear or two as we’re treated to Song 6 and the slightly schmaltzy Hold My Girl. These more reflective moments are unfortunately a red flag to the imbeciles who love to shout inane twaddle over an artist; sadly George Ezra’s rise into the mainstream has seen him amass a few idiots along the way who seem more bothered about getting the perfect selfie at a famous person’s concert and this spoils the more tender moments of the evening. Things are about to get really mushy however before the encore kicks off when George’s father makes an unexpected appearance on stage. He presents his son with a trophy for the number one album before proudly proceeding to honour his son with an affectionate reading of Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, visibly appearing to make young Ezra choke up. It’s a genuinely sweet moment, serving to enhance the tender tone of Leaving It Up to You which follows before a riotous Budapest concludes the evening in audacious style.
Photos: Iain Fox. See more photos of the evening here.