Gig Review by Chloe Gynne with Photography by Jeremy Carron

“Are you nervous? I’m not nervous!” says Ezra Furman at the start of his Brixton Academy set.

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He says it with sarcasm, and that usual tinge of anxious energy all of his songs seem to possess. He’s right to be a little nervous- Brixton is huge, and despite this being a Tuesday gig, and one rescheduled from May at that, the stalls are pretty busy.

But he need not fear the crowd. They welcome him with open arms as he launches into ‘Tell Em All To Go To Hell’. This crowd- full of well dressed, largely queer youth- likely has a person or group of people in mind when they sing the chorus back to Furman.

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The crowd doesn’t just scream, but they sing too. ‘My Zero’ elicits a huge response, larger than Furman seems to expect. He clasps his chest in appreciation at the end of the song, and, after taking a second to compose himself, he cracks a couple more wry jokes- something he’s prone to doing whenever he is reminded of the magnitude of the crowd.

But for all the punky noise, for the blasted guitars and varied instrumentation from his excellent band, it’s the sentimental moments that hit the hardest. ‘Psalm 151’ silences a stunned crowd, while ‘Ordinary Life’, with lyrics of hope directed at the most vulnerable, most scatter-brained members of the crowd, leaves many teary-eyed.

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Near the end of the set, Furman showcases more from latest album ‘Transangelic Exodus’, including the jubilant ‘Peel My Orange Every Morning’. But by now, the crowd is dwindling- it is Tuesday night, after all- and the crowd compacts into the front and centre.

This is no bad thing. Furman treats those who remain not only with an excellent cover of the Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Tonight Tonight’ (perfectly suited to Furman’s Corgan-esque nasal tones) but also with a powerful blast through ‘Suck The Blood From My Wound’, closing the night on a high.

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When an artist within the queer community starts to take on larger spaces, there’s always a fear that the shows will lose something of their ‘us-ness’. But Furman- who actively remarks that his performance is largely for the queer audience- loses nothing of his originality, nor his ability to touch each audience member on what feels like a highly personal level. His music, wordy and weird and chaotically joyful, has the potential to speak volumes both in and out of the community. And tonight, in this large venue, the crowd lapped it up.

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