Ezra Furman is exhausted. He’s been touring so long he can no longer remember who he was at the start of the tour, never mind before. He might get confessional, he tells us. That comes later.
His first Nottingham appearance, a 42 minute in-store at Rough Trade in July this year, was a riveting, unforgettable gig. No surprise then, that tonight’s show has long been sold out.
He’s dressed to kill, in pin stripe skirt, black vest and a long string of pearls. Perpetual Motion People is his sixth and best album, the second with the Boyfriends, who accompany him tonight and features heavily.
Furman is twenty-nine, but looks younger, and plays raucous rock’n’roll with exciting hooks that recall doo wop, Lou Reed and early soul. He has a few slow songs, too, like opener Day of the Dog, title track of the first Boyfriends album. It’s introduced with a slow, dramatic drumbeat, then keyboards, before he takes the stage.
The show is intense. Ezra tries to settle in. An enthusiastic crowd wills him on. ‘Now we’re getting into gear,’ he says after a strong Haunted Head. And Maybe God is a Train is emotional. He talks about depression before At the Bottom of the Ocean. The insanely catchy Lousy Connection lifts things back up.
The set climaxes with the wonderful Body Was Made and an even catchier Restless Year. It’s curfew time, but also the end of the tour and the crowd insist on him coming back for a fifteen minute encore. During it, he gets us all to crouch on the floor and rise slowly. For me, the show’s highlight was a cover of the Velvet Underground’s Rock’n’Roll, last played in this city by Lou Reed, on his Berlin tour. Tonight, Ezra proved himself worthy to bear Lou’s torch.
Earlier, Glee’s insistence that punters arrive before start time paid dividends. All woman band The Big Moon were the most exciting, original support I’ve seen this year, playing varied, quirky songs that at times recalled Belly and Sleater Kinney. Watch out for them.
I’ve seen both acts again since writing the above and am pleased to say they only get better.