I hadn’t heard of Ezra Furman prior to last year’s Perpetual Motion People album which I described as my album of the summer. I’m glad to say that its appeal has not waned and it still gets regular plays. I haven’t heard much about Ezra since the album’s release either, so I was quite surprised to learn that his gig here at The Liquid Room had sold out and I’m very grateful to Ezra’s management company for supplying a ticket at the last minute. I was even more surprised to see that once Ezra and his band The Boy-Friends hit the stage that the majority of the audience were word perfect with not only the songs from Perpetual Motion People but with his earlier material as well.
Lou Reed, King Curtis, Jonathan Richman, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Dion, Audrey Hepburn (blame the silky black blouse and the string of pearls): these are just some of the names that you might think of during an Ezra Furman gig. Opening song Ocean Of Tears is a Tom Waitsian bluesy skronk that sets the pace for the rest of the show. Furman’s music pulls its influences from 50’s doo-wop, 60’s soul, and 70’s glam rock with some indie pop punk thrown in for good measure. The Boy-Friends are a tightly drilled backing band, giving Ezra the freedom to take the songs wherever he feels like going with them and you get the feeling that on any given night, that could be anywhere at all.
For me the highlights are, of course, the songs that I am familiar with from Perpetual Motion People but really every song is a joy. It’s impossible not to be carried along on the adrenaline rush of Restless Year, Wobbly or Tip Of A Match and the crowd sing along with nearly every word. As the gig builds to a climax, Furman toys with the pearls round his neck, slowly unwinding them before sending them spinning off into the ecstatic audience and leaving the stage in a howl of feedback from his guitar.
Ezra Furman is one of the most exciting and individual performers around at the moment. As a self-styled cross dressing, manic depressive, observant Jew, mainstream superstardom may not be quite his style but pop music certainly needs him around and he deserves to be better known than he is. Hopefully, those that know him will be spreading the word.