Ezra Furman – The Duchess, York, 14th February 2014
Happy Valentine’s Day. And to celebrate the occasion in style we all decide to spend the evening with Ezra Furman. To those not yet familiar with the name, he is the new kid on the block. Well when I say new, Furman has been round the block a good few times already. He has released four albums with The Harpoons and also has a couple of solo albums to his credit. And when I say kid, and despite his fresh-faced looks, Furman ain’t no schoolboy. He is more your slightly nerdy older brother in that Jonathan Richman and Jeffrey Lewiskind-of-way. But the wind is suddenly in the Oakland-based singer-songwriter’s sails. His second solo album Day Of The Dog came out at the fag-end of last year to universally rave reviews and he is now playing to consistently sold out shows on his current tour of the UK.
So just what is all the fuss about? It is essentially about Furman’s ability to connect with his audience, though his having written some absolutely stonking tunes and being backed by a band as totally just there as the Boy-Friends are undoubtedly helps. Together they put on what is a genuine show. Bursting as it is at the seams of untrammelled excitement, it is chock-full of energy, passion and a fervent desire to just have a real good time. It is in many regards a show in the very best of rock n roll revivalisms, but also one laced with gospel, soul, rock, doo-wop and those traditional R&B fuelled horns. It is a place where Daddy “G” & The Church Street Five would commune with Gary “U.S.” Bonds, Bruce Springsteen and for all of its inherent oddball charm, the previously mentioned Jonathan Richman.
For just over one hour and the tender ballad ‘Mysterious Power’ (complete with a snatch of ‘Hungry Heart’, thusaffirming the Boss parallels) aside, Ezra Furman & the Boy-Friends lay waste to any notion that anybody in the room may have had about not celebrating this particular Feast of Saint Valentine in style. The flip side of current single ‘My Zero’, the rather creepy ‘Caroline Jones’; the joyride of ‘Bloodsucking Whore’ (taken from the 2011 Mysterious Power album he recorded with the Harpoons); the wonderfully ridiculous ‘Tell ‘Em All To Go To Hell’, a song about quitting work and before which Furman rather helpfully suggests that we should all fuck jobs; and the equally deranged ‘Taking Off Your Sunglasses’, which naturally prompts Furman to don his, are all present and correct; each one full to the brim with blood-pumping grooves, rousing rhythm and the parping saxophone of Tim Sandusky, the Boy-Friends’ very own Gene Barge.
It is all good clean riotous fun rounded off in marvellous fashion by a triple salvo of ‘My Zero’, by which time Furman’s voice has begun to splinter and crack through its earlier exertions, an absolute blast of a cover of The Marvelettes’ number-one single from 1961, ‘Please Mr Postman’ and a most richly deserved encore of ‘We Should Fight’ taken from the earlier album Furman had recorded with the Harpoons, Inside The Human Body. House full signs are going to prevent you from seeing him this time round but should Ezra Furman come this way again, cancel all other plans.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.