LIVE: Ezra Furman - Edinburgh International Festival, Leith Theatre, 23/08/2022 2

LIVE: Ezra Furman – Edinburgh International Festival, Leith Theatre, 23/08/2022

As the Edinburgh Festival (both International and Fringe – the latter is actually far bigger than the EIF) marks its 75th anniversary, it’s great to see just how much diverse stuff makes up the programme, and how wonderful it is that this venue, mothballed for much of the past thirty years, is getting properly used. It certainly makes for more of a fantastic venue for Ezra Furman who makes her EIF debut, a slightly decaying ballroom with a lot of ambience (the Scottish capital has long needed a proper equivalent of the West Coast’s Barrowlands).

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Ezra Furman at the Leith Theatre in Edinburgh

Before Ezra Furman appears, we’re treated to the warm up of the Shangri-La’sDressed In Black.’ It’s the perfect entrance music for her, an artist who acknowledges that they speak for many who may be marginalised for a whole host of reasons, and it fades perfectly into ‘Lilac and Black‘ the opening number. For this writer it evokes memories of an adolescence spent listening to the clarion calls of Suede‘s early records, and it’s an example of how the brilliant new album All Of Us Flames showcases her at her very best. Said album is due out a couple of days after the gig, but it doesn’t seem to matter at all that not everyone in the theatre may not have heard the whole record yet.

The opening lines of ‘Lilac‘ – “we all escaped from somewhere else/ to the cruel, cruel city where the asphalt melts” brings us all together. To Furman, as someone who identifies as both trans and Jewish, there are ways of bringing the outsiders who feel shunned for whatever reason. She gets us all on board with older numbers like ‘Evening Prayer‘ and ‘Transition From Nowhere To Nowhere.’ Even when there’s a brief unscheduled break before the double new record whammy of ‘Throne‘ and ‘Dressed In Black‘ the crowd are patient and forgiving. Not least because a) Furman is a mesmerising performer to watch and listen to, but b) her band rock like you wouldn’t believe.

Furman’s a fantastic lyricist as well – as a song like ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend‘ from 2019’s Twelve Nudes album demonstrates ‘My dying friends are finding religion/While my intellectual friends are all denying God.‘ If you’ve never heard the song (thank God for streaming services, eh? Well, at least until you’re trying to make your living as a musician), it’s full of great examples like this. Like I say, that new album’s great, and just watching this set makes me want to play all the albums through again and again – what might I have missed?

There’s no gimmicks in the show, just a brilliant gig, with one fantastic song after another. She mentions playing the city’s much smaller venue Sneaky Pete’s back in 2014 to about thirty people, and if this record does as well as it damn well deserves to then maybe her next Scottish visit will see her playing even bigger venues.

Not least because there’s so many songs that need to be heard live, as they carry you along on a wave of emotion. However contrived some people might find the idea of encores being, we get a prime example of how they can bring a fantastic night to a close. So we get the new album opener ‘Train Comes Through,’ the fan favourite ‘Suck The Blood From My Wound‘, and finally an example of having your cake and eating it. Furman and band finish with her version of Patti Smith‘s ‘Because The Night‘ which manages to be faithful to the original and yet be completely her own, making the same lyrics feel relevant to her own lyrical concerns.

I still have a warm glow 24 hours later…

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Ezra Furman at the Leith Theatre in Edinburgh

Photo credit: Ryan Buchanan

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.