After cancelling last December’s gig, Ezra Furman returned to Vancouver last night, to play the Wise Hall. Wearing his signature red lipstick, black jeans and a red and black animal print jacket, Ezra came on stage looking every bit the rock star. His messy black hair was tied back in a short ponytail, with the front falling over his face throughout the gig. His three band members were dressed in old fashioned blue mechanics overalls, with name badges sewn on. Starting with Tip of a Match, Ezra seemed a little anxious at first, as he often does, but warmed up quickly. He chatted between many of the songs and gained a rapport with the enthusiastic crowd. Early on, he thanked one audience member for returning his dropped guitar pick, commenting that some people just take them and that they’re a thrifty band…not by choice. Maraschino-Red Dress $8.99 at Goodwill and Compulsive Liar were dedicated to the non-gender conforming and queer members of the audience. Body Was Made was sung much more slowly and downbeat than usual, speeding up for a frantic finale.
The band played some new songs, midway through the set, which Ezra said the internet doesn’t know about yet. They were all lyrical and tuneful, as you’d expect, welcome additions to Ezra’s expansive catalogue. The first two were in the screaming and shouting style, typical of the Transangelic Exodus album. Wish I Was Your Girlfriend was a slower, melodic love ballad. His next single, Calm Down, to be released in two weeks, was upbeat and tuneful. All of them, of course, had his deep but simple lyrics. Before playing No Place, Ezra mentioned that it was about a couple of refugees and advised us to be nice to refugees, as we’ll be getting more and more of them, as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the land gets drier, the floods get floodier and human existence collapses. He’d probably have been a welcome guest at the Come Join the Circle event, which was also taking place last night, featuring David Suzuki and Reuben George. Over to another Ezra (Koenig) Vampire Weekend’s Unbelievers, was the only cover of the night.
Anyone who caught Ezra Furman and band at The Fox, this time last year, will know that the show was very raw and heavy on the screaming/shouting. Last night’s gig was more of a mix and Ezra seemed more upbeat overall, though with the intensity that drives all of his work. In his songs, he told us, is where he lives and he was happy for us to hang out in them for the evening too. For a couple of songs, he seemed to struggle with the dilemma of being too hot in his jacket, yet wanting to maintain his rockstar chic, but he took it off and threw it down on the stage behind him in the end. During the final song, Suck The Blood From My Wound, one of his shoes flew into the crowd. He’d already warned the crowd that they were the kind of band that didn’t do encores. In fact at the end of My Zero, Ezra asked the audience to imagine that the band had gone backstage and come back on. At the end, he left the stage shoe in hand and they kept to their word. He did pop out to the merch stand afterwards, where audience members were eager to linger and chat. It was a show worth waiting for. Hope to see you again next May, Ezra.
Written by Karen Alldred