Embarking on the penultimate date of his debut UK tour, George Ezra rocked Portsmouth like he’s been doing it for years. Ezra burst onto the scene at the end of 2013 with the single ‘Budapest’, after being supported by the highly recognised BBC Introducing programme. Less than a year later, he has a number 1 album, Wanted On Voyage, to his name and a forthcoming European tour to look forward to.
The night kicked off with Ezra’s long term support act and friend; Rae Morris. The Blackpool-born singer songwriter delivered an exceptional and mature performance, highlighting the strides she’s made since playing at Reading & Leeds in 2011 at the tender age of just 18. Her latest single ‘Closer’ was my personal highlight, combining an upbeat tune with her strong voice – surprising most of the audience with her maturity, at such a young age. A definite contender for BBC’s ‘Sound of 2015’ list.
Just after 9pm, the buoyant sound of ‘Cassy-O’ belted out around the Portsmouth Pyramids, a strong start from the guitar-playing Bristolian. Playing to a crowd full of all ages, Ezra played some of his older unreleased material along with songs from his debut album. The songs ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Budapest’ not only showed off his soulful and convincing voice, but lyrically also shared his journey with the audience, giving a sense of how far he’s come in such a short space of time. Being on his first UK headline tour, his songs lacked ‘strength in depth’, which did show during the middle of his set with a couple of fillers reducing the audience interaction momentarily.
This was my first trip to the Pyramids and despite doubling as a leisure centre-gym complex, it provided a great venue for up-and-coming acts to showcase their talents, with respectable amenity prices and a good location all adding to the experience. My particular highpoint were Ezra’s finishing songs: ‘Spectacular Rival’ and ‘Breakaway’. I’d never heard either previously, but they both sounded brilliant live, with a heavier tone to the former giving a lasting impression to me.
As is common for artists these days, George and his band promptly returned for a two-song encore. Previously heard by myself in a BBC Live Lounge session, Ezra covered Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ in an energetic and impressive performance. The set finished with the unbelievable ‘Did You Hear The Rain’, genuinely one of the best songs I’ve ever heard live – a brilliant end to a great concert.