A flawless mixture of slow-paced and upbeat, old and new.
Brit award winner and multi-platinum selling artist George Ezra brought the feeling of summer back to Glasgow in the second half of his 2022 tour, promoting his recently released studio album Gold Rush Kid as he played the OVO Hydro on Monday 26 September. With Cape Town trio Beatenberg in support, Ezra’s perfect blend of the slow-paced and the upbeat, combined with beautiful storytelling of his travels and an array of colourful moving images, provided the arena gig not only with a sense of intimacy but a night of liveliness and celebration.
Backed by a seven-piece band, the singer entered the stage through a projected red curtain, accompanied by his intro music: It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones. Then, from his latest album, Anyone for You (Tiger Lily) kicked off the show as the large video wall behind him took the audience through a journey of vivid landscapes and brightly coloured abstract artwork, before the stage turned mono-chromatic for old favourite Cassy O’.
Playing songs from both his 2014 Wanted on Voyage and 2018 Staying at Tamara’s albums, as well as recently released tracks, the arena was treated to a spectacular setlist and an even better show. In between songs, the English singer, songwriter and guitarist invited the eager crowd to sing and dance along, giving anecdotes from his worldwide adventures which sought escapism, and describing the inspirations behind his newest album. Gold Rush Kid, he says, is the polar opposite of his two previous albums; it’s all about being exactly where you’re supposed to be and being surrounded by the people you want to be surrounded by. Tracks from his latest offering gained an incredible reception throughout, including radio hit single Green Green Grass and Dance All Over Me, but it was during 2015’s folk-rock Barcelona, which succeeded a stellar moment and audience favourite Pretty Shining People, that the wonderful stage lights were rivalled by swaying arms and twinkling phone torches, with the tune illuminating the arena.
The set’s midpoint mellowed out, lacking the pace of the first half but building up the emotion. It reached its climax as the band, excluding pianist James Wyre, left Ezra alone on stage for a special performance of Hold My Girl. A truly magical moment of pure emotion; it was exactly where I wanted to be. The ballads continued with In The Morning, Sweetest Human Being Alive and All My Love, before the pace accelerated again and the crowd clapped along to and belted out signature numbers Paradise and Blame It On Me.
Completing the showcase of his travel-inspired repertoire, the British performer went back to where it all began as Budapest concluded the main set in style. Following much applause and cheering from the Glasgow audience, Ezra returned to the stage, minus his iconic Gold Rush Kid denim jacket, and sang an electric two-song encore, including pop anthem Shotgun. Raising the roof for the final time that evening, the performance was second to none as the audience lapped up every second of the animated graphics and neon lights, before erupting as Ezra and his band thanked the crowd and left the stage.
Spending my teenage years singing along with my family to the sounds of the award-winning artist at every opportunity, it was no surprise that my mum and I walked away from Ezra’s arena gig sounding hoarse and with smiles plastered on our faces. George Ezra at the Hydro exceeded all my expectations, as everything from the atmosphere and the crowd to the set production and song choice came together so excellently. It was a gold-standard performance from the golden-boy of pop music: a step into Ezra’s scrapbook of memories, celebrations and emotions and a night to inspire.