Los Angeles – On Friday night at The Forum bluesy folk-rock musician George Ezra opened for pop sensation Sam Smith. While both artists are from England (Ezra from Hertford, Smith from London), their musical styles are enormously different. Smith gave an expected larger than life performance to a massive crowd. However, at just the age of 21, Ezra’s deep and immense vocals go further than his youthful demeanor would belie. His potent, storytelling driven lyrics are wise beyond his young years.
Though most in attendance were there to see Smith, Ezra held his own in a brief but overwhelmingly impactful set. He graced the spectators with seven glorious tunes, the majority of them coming off his new album, Wanted on Voyage. While a huge venue such as The Forum is a terrific way for a young artist to be showcased, his songs are best suited for small, intimate settings. Ezra’s crafty arrangements, bluesy vocals, and naturally deeper lyrics cater more towards previous generations than current ones, but his fresh approach in the modern world somehow pierces through the generation he’s speaking to.
Ezra got things started with “Cassy O’,” a catchy, confident pop track. The rebellious vibe was performed with much grit. Those in attendance previously unaware of Ezra now had his attention. “Blame It On Me” featured Ezra’s husky vocals with lighthearted arrangements delivered by his touring band. His crisp guitar work was on display as well. It was the ideal toe tapper and head-bobbing tune. With some of his songs, Ezra would talk about how they came about. His breakout song, “Budapest,” is about a destination he missed and never got to see. The propulsive folk jam is pure bliss. It features indelibly infectious guitar strumming and Ezra’s soulful and mellifluous vocals. While the single is nearly impeccable, the one song that really stood out from the rest was “Barcelona.” Ezra sung it beautifully as the gentle musical arrangements could carry one’s mind further away. The dreamy sense it provided coincided with what Ezra must have felt at the time—it feels like a dream. The subdued track clearly illustrated Ezra’s strengths in the best possible way.
His effective set ended rather quickly with the concluding number “Did You Hear The Rain?” It had a bit of a rocker vibe attached to it as Ezra sung with much exuberance. It sounded like a hybrid of Hozier and The Arctic Monkeys with Ezra’s signature style glazed over it. Ezra and company performed for about 30 minutes and surely made every moment count. With a mix of both gutsy and easygoing tunes, George Ezra gleamed from start to finish. Overall, his sprightly collection of tunes wooed and impressed attendees as he received the deserved respect and appreciation that was forthcoming.
George Ezra’s opening dates for the Sam Smith tour ends this week. He will be traveling out of the states for several shows before returning in March to support Hozier on some of his headlining dates.
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