Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends / The Big Moon - Birmingham Glee Club, 16th February 2016

Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends / The Big Moon – Birmingham Glee Club, 16th February 2016

Every so often an artist that has been steadily going about their business, releasing albums and playing tours, suddenly gets catapulted onto another level entirely. It happened to Pulp, it happened to The Flaming Lips, and now, around the release of his sixth album, last year’s mighty Perpetual Motion People, it is happening to Ezra Furman. The packed-out ‘big’ room in the Glee Club tonight bears this out – in its chair-less arrangement it is packed to the rafters with a crowd, high on anticipation.

The main man can be spotted watching his regular support, The Big Moon, from the side of the stage, snapping pictures as they turn in a set of excellently spiky songs in the vein of Sleater-Kinney or perhaps Best Coast, including highlights of Cupid and Run, not to mention a stop-start inventive re-imagining of Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’ in the middle of it all. Last year’s buzz for the London four-piece may have died down slightly, but they are a big hit with the Glee Club audience and deserve to progress.

There is tangible excitement as the throng await the entrance of Furman and his band, The Boyfriends, and a low key instrumental introduces the ensemble before a spirited ‘Restless Year’, the first single from the aforementioned current album, sets the bar for the evening extremely high. There is a real concern that Furman can’t possibly continue at this level of intensity throughout the show, a concern that in the event proves unwarranted, as he and the band power through a 100-minute set drawn heavily from the last two albums (the other being 2013’s Day Of The Dog).

Furman thanks the crowd for bringing happiness and excitement, but also frustration, sadness and pain. It is typical of his fascinating inter-song dialogue and the audience hang on his every word. The Brummie voice consistently shouting for ‘Wobbly’ gets its wish after a 120 mph version of ‘Hark! To The Music’, after which a lesser performer would have required a twenty minute lie-down to recuperate, such is its power, pace and absolute unhinged joy.

There is a wonderful new song in the shape of ready-made classic ‘Teddy’, while Day Of The Dog’s ‘Slacker Adria’ and ‘Walk On In Darkness‘ get welcome outings either side of Furman’s arguably best-known song, ‘Lousy Connection’. The latter, wonderfully, has hundreds of people singing lines such as ‘I’m out of money and I’m out of my mind’ straight back at Furman and the band. Although all eyes are on Furman, special mention should be made for The Boyfriends, the powerful saxophone of Tim Sandusky propelling the band’s sound alongside Jorgen Jorgensen (bass), Ben Joseph (guitars and keys) and Sam Durkes (drums) – they are an impressive unit and a perfect foil to Furman’s songs.

After a poignant rendition of The Year Of No Returning’s melancholy highlight, ‘Down’, ends the main set, Furman returns to exclaim that ‘It was just too sad at the end’ and then piles into Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’, an inspired cover which somehow drastically alters the original’s structure while keeping it very recognisable. A powerful ‘Tell ‘Em All To Go To Hell’ concludes proceedings, Furman announcing ‘Ezra and The Boyfriends at your service, see you next time, dammit!’ as he leaves the stage to wild applause.

A truly extraordinary show from a truly great performer who will very likely be visiting larger venues on his next tour. Catch him while you can.

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.