Ezra Furman – Colston Hall, Bristol

Thursday 24th May, 2018

When the tickets for this gig were booked a gazillion years ago I was pretty excited about it. Then all the other gigs got booked around it and it became the fourth gig on the bounce for this packed week. I was pretty shattered going in and made the pragmatic decision to sit in the stalls, rather than risk achy limbs and feet standing yet another night on the trot.

The crowd were much more diverse, the age range bigger, the haircuts wilder (I didn’t at all feel out of place as a woman with short hair) and the atmosphere pretty electric. This was to be my last gig at Colston Hall before it closes for the refit. I’m not at all sure what I will do with myself without regular visits to the main hall and the Lantern. They have become my second home. I know the music trust will continue to put on gigs in other venues and I also know the refurb is much needed and will be worth all the money and time, but I was still slightly sad tonight.

Du Blonde were the support and I’m sorry we came in a little way through their set and missed a chunk of it as they sounded great. They were fun and engaging and a good warm up for Ezra.

The rest of the band came on, dressed entirely in white like lovely angels and Ezra made a dramatic entrance almost like a ballerina. He in no way hides his light under a bushel and that is why we love him. He is a brave, confrontational and brilliant artist who wears his heart firmly on his sleeve. The audio visuals and theatrical performance made it almost feel like a live film soundtrack. His music has a very visual, evocative feeling. I only knew a few of his songs before going into this gig, but the long set list tonight showed off his creativity and flair for a witty lyric. I Lost My Innocence and one I thought was called Cookies & Cigarettes (it isn’t!) were utter standouts. Unashamed and honest songs about gay sex and love sung by a man in a dress and make up. This is genuine outsider music and I loved it. Ezra paced the stage, gathering himself at the back at times, finding the feelings to allow him to channel whatever character he was playing in each song. Or simply to find a way of dealing with all the emotions, I’m not sure which. Perhaps a mixture of both. There was an Iggy Pop kinda vibe, not just for the sexuality and gender blending, but the punk spirit and vocal style too.

The band were inventive and exciting to watch themselves. The bass player turned his instrument sideways and plucked at it like a double bass, then he used a bow. There were keyboards, a saxophone and some percussion too. Talented bunch they were.

Ezra saved the most known of his songs for the end and the place erupted during Love You So Band and Suck The Blood From My Wound. If I had been less tired and on my feet near the front I’m sure I would have done the same. They are great, great tunes. And this was a great gig. To be able to reach my tired brain near the back it had to be.

If there was a thread connecting the gigs this week it was what it means to be a man in 2018. Gaz Coombes offers up interesting interpretations of traditional male orientated rock with incredible female vocal harmonies on, sings about his own issues with panic attacks and asks questions about modern manhood. Ride, well they seem happy and content with where they are, but their music seems to be able to unlock emotions and act as a release. Ezra says men can wear dresses and lipstick and fuck other men and still be men. I’m considerably happier with the first and last of those. Patriarchy harms us all; men suffer when they are taught not to display emotions that aren’t anger and women are directly harmed by the violence that results.

 

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