For the fans awaiting George Ezra at the Manchester o2 Apollo, this concert was more anticipated than expected. Due to ill health, this Bristol-based musician was forced to postpone this sold out event for Saturday 21st February until tonight. Also, this is the first show Ezra has performed at, after three weeks of rest, from continuous touring this year.
The show was opened by support act Raleigh Ritchie – a 24 year old alternative RnB singer from Bristol. Known also as Grey Worm in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones, Ritchie managed to warm a quiet crowd up with his upbeat songs and lively onstage personality. This proved to be a fitting opening for a gig on a warm summer evening.
There was a clear change in atmosphere once George Ezra had arrived though, with the focus being upon one man and his guitar. Despite the presence of his backing band for half of the concert, the strength of Ezra’s vocals was the centre of attention. Unusually, Ezra chose to place some of his most well-known hits very early on in the set. Cassy O’ was the first of these choices, followed soon after by both Listen to the Man and Blame It On Me. Soon, the set became more stripped back, as several of Ezra’s acoustic tracks came next, including Barcelona. This part of the concert also featured a well-chosen cover version of Bob Dylan’s Girl From The North Country.
Yet, despite the musical and technical strengths of this show, Ezra seemed to lack in his stage presence. Crowd engagement was fairly minimal, as was use of the whole stage. Although this was a mostly acoustic set, this musician seemed unable to build the necessary atmosphere for his songs to stay powerful. This was reflected in the crowd, which seemed to be quiet and unenthusiastic in places. Also, fans were stunned to see the set finish almost 25 minutes early, with Did You Hear The Rain? as a slightly unconventional choice of finale, after what is seen as his biggest hit to date: Budapest.
Overall, this was still an enjoyable evening, which marked the return of George Ezra’s live performances. This was a show without gimmicks or extravagance, and managed to successfully showcase the raw singing talent that this musician clearly possesses. However, the four month anticipation may have made this a slight disappointment. As the fans have had to wait so long for this sell-out concert, it’s short and simplistic style seems too little for the fans, and left many wanting more.