The first thing you’ll notice about George Ezra is his deep, raw, and powerful voice. The second thing you’ll notice about him his boyish, youthful look, and his constant beaming smile. But Ezra sells out venues along his North American headlining tour because of one thing: that voice.
The 21 year-old English lad returned to Vancouver on Sunday, April 5, to a very sold-out performance at the Commodore Ballroom. Vancouver’s first glimpse of the four-time Brit Award nominee was in January, when he opened for Sam Smith at Rogers Arena. Ezra, potentially fairly unknown to many at the time, played a short set- but it was enough to create the buzz in the city about the young singer-songwriter. And with that, months before his headlining show this week, his Commodore show was sold-out.
Exactly a week and a day after a brilliant performance on Saturday Night Live (SNL), Ezra’s voice filled the Commodore as he performed songs from his critically acclaimed album “Wanted on Voyage.” Opening with the upbeat “Cassy O”, Ezra sure knows how to make a crowd dance. And in between songs, the charismatic Ezra told tales of his journey while writing the album- often making the crowd laugh with his jokes and tales.
Ezra, who is often compared to Bob Dylan, surprised Vancouver with his cover of Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” a beautiful addition to his 60 minute set. Upon singing his single “Budapest”, the fans seem to sing along out loud and in unison, that by the end of the song, Ezra applauded the crowd and thanked them.
Fans of Ezra in North America will be able to catch him again this summer, as he returns for the Squamish Valley Music Festival in August.
Before his sold-out set, we shared a couch with Ezra to chat with him about his recent success, while sharing some laughs. Ezra, who was a “tad tired” and a bit quiet during the interview, is actually a “really nice guy.” (He asked me to say that. But he truly is a musical gem with a great sense of humour).
You opened for Sam Smith in January, was it your first time in the city?
It was, and it was also the last date of that tour. We were ready to go home. It was awesome, I remember the show being cool. I’m trying to think of where we went, I can’t remember what we did though. I remember being hungover. We found a nice hat shop. I can’t wear hats though.
My head’s too big.
But you can wear a tuque, right?
Oh yeh. I’ve got one here actually ‘cuz my hair is getting too long.
So you were on SNL- Congrats! Brilliant performance. How was that experience?
If I’m honest, I’ve never seen it before. My brother watches it, but I was saying to the woman looking after us, I was like ‘Wow these sketches are good, they should do this every week.’ (laughs) She looks at me and says, ‘that’s the whole point.’ I thought it was a talk show. But it was great. Everyone was lovely. The performance went well.
Let’s talk about your album. You wrote it while travelling?
Yeh, what I did was, I went travelling and took notebooks, and wrote the songs once I got back. I would say 70 per cent of the record comes from that trip, and that was when I was 19. And there were one or two songs from when I was 16 on the record.
After the record came out, you were nominated for four Brit Awards, and went on tour with Sam Smith and Hozier… Has it all sunk in for you?
I’m 21, and this is just what 21 feels like. I think the advantage I have, because of my lack of interest and knowledge in celebrity culture, it kind of goes over my head. Which I think is a blessing because when I get home, I do the same sh*t I always used to do. I love this so much, but if I only get to release one record, I’ve had the best time. This came along randomly, and I am aware that it lasts as long as it lasts, and it’s fun.
What’s been your favourite aspect of touring “Wanted on Voyage” so far?
I love touring. I love being on the move. I’m always unsure what I should share and not. (laughs). It’s good fun.
You created a word for your fans, “Petan” – shall its origins remain a mystery?
It’s not that its a mystery, it’s nonsense. Me and my friends probably used that word for about a week, I don’t know where it came from. And one of my friends said, ‘you should see as a social experiment if you can get people to use it online.’ So I was like, ‘okay I’ll try.’ They [fans] did like it, which is funny. I’m just waiting for someone to get it tattooed on them, and I will laugh if that happens because it means nothing.
What’s next for George Ezra?
What’s next maybe the most attractive thing in the world. I’ve got a month off.
And you’re in the Festival circuit this year.
I’m looking forward to that a lot actually. I love festivals. So that’s something to look forward to.
On Twitter this week, you said that “writing open letters is fun”, can you write one for Vancouver?
Sorry I’ve never properly explored you
You look attractive
Don’t go changing,