Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



BENT NIGHTS George Ezra holds concert at UIC Pavilion
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester

This article shared 2691 times since Tue Jan 27, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Regardless of how her career evolves from here on out, Adele will go down in history for bringing back the power of singing as a pure art form. Forget neo-soul, the annual flood of talented new faces ( who have a tendency to trill to distraction ) or the fusion of genres, Adele has put the emphasis back on great songs and vocal interpretations. Hot on her satin heels we've already had out shooting star Sam Smith and now, in his wake, we have one George Ezra. The three of them have an awful lot in common, although what they bring to the table is entirely different.

Never mind that like Adele, Smith and Ezra are Brits who embrace purely American forms of music ( Adele and Smith are into hard-boiled soul while Ezra's alternative pop has a western/swing flavor ) or that their breakout CDs have all hit worldwide on a huge scale with little hype. Or, for that matter, that all three of them are still in their twenties but routinely get described as having voices and music that sounds "beyond their years."

It says something—though I don't know what—that these "youngsters" from another country are taking our genres and turning them into something seemingly new and fresh while snatching up truckloads of Oscars, Grammys and platinum platters in the process. The truth, of course, as that the three of them demand attention because they have taken popular music right back to its purpose; to bring pleasure.

Ezra makes acoustic guitar-driven pop designed to showcase his deep, resonant voice and elaborate lyrics, and to hear him is to be seduced by the beauty of the English language. Hearing him tumble, toy with, and gift wrap syllables on his hit "Budapest" is a hoot and he does it so smoothly that he comes across like a seasoned magician. That song and the damnably catchy "Blame It On Me" are deceptively easy on the ears, until you actually try to sing along. The lack of ornamental sonic fuss and that leisurely guitar-driven swing make Wanted on Voyage feel like ear candy, but a hard corker like "Cassy O" takes what sounds clever and turns it into something with a much stronger propulsion.

"Did You Hear the Rain?" is even better, and the recording sounds like a great lost spooky Buck Owens stomper wrapped in a sinister aura of doom. But with all of that going on, Ezra throws in a wild card; a habit of flipping his profoundly earthbound voice into a pristine falsetto without warning. The effect is like getting tickled at an unexpected time in an unexpected spot on your body.

Although Ezra looks like a pleasant, apple-cheeked, sweet young man, and he sings with an embraceable sincerity, his videos feature a subversive humor that actually adds to his music. The clip for "Blame It On Me" has him in pursuit of the Yellow Brick Road, while barely surviving a multitude of calamities that would have sent Dorothy and that mangy dog running for cover. The bouncy and altogether sunny "Listen to the Man" gets a scene-stealing assist from Sir Ian McKellen and literally turns the song on its head. Then there is the video for "Cassy O," which features screaming harpies, sex dolls, bedroom frolics, used condoms and an ongoing cat fight. The punchline of all of them is Ezra himself, blithely singing away with perfect enunciation and a straight face.

Wanted on Voyage is lots of fun to listen to ( and the videos are even more fun to watch ) and it feels like too much of a good thing: intelligent, polished, engaging, addictive alternative pop with a touch of subversion. The debut is such a delight that it was a shame that Ezra found himself in the unenviable position of being Smith's opener at the massive and hollow UIC Pavilion in front of an SRO crowd Jan. 23. The space was so massive that it gave Ezra a new challenge: His rich baritone and wordy songcraft and melodies were literally swallowed up in the abyss.

Although the capacity crowd was clearly on his side ( the fans at the front of the house kept screaming at the top of their lungs, "YOU ARE SO CUTE!!!!" ) much of what makes Wanted on Voyage such a delight ( the details of the lyrics, the articulate arrangements, the nuances of Ezra's voice, and even his facial expressions ) were muffled and dulled. What was sharp, crisp, and charming was telegraphed through the venue's sound system as unrefined and muddy. "Listen to the Man" and "Barcelona" didn't have a prayer of connecting, but "Cassy O" with its edge, and "Blame It On Me," with its driven melody and mind bending hook made up for that, though the effect was like getting hit in the chops with a sock stuffed with wet sand.

The biggest insult was that Ezra's set felt curtailed not only by the Pavilion but a 30-minute set limit. That set limit and space did not give him much of a chance to stretch out, create momentum or build a rapport with his audience, which is a bummer since George Ezra on stage projects a certain comfort and engagement that are not only warm, friendly and humorous, but makes you want to spend an entire evening with him. Hopefully, all of these quibbles will be corrected when he comes back for his third jaunt to Chicago ( the second being his Feb. 25 opening slot for Hozier ) for his headlining gig at the more intimate Metro on March 30.

This article shared 2691 times since Tue Jan 27, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Bodyshop,' Beyonce, Ani DiFranco, Billie Jean King 2023-12-01
- The Breaking Glass Pictures film Bodyshop will be out on digital on Dec. 5, per a press release. The plot is described thusly: "The ghost of a young soldier sexually assaulted by his lieutenant says goodbye ...

Gay News

Jerry Mitchell bops into Boop! 2023-11-27
- Director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell is bringing black-and-white Boop! The Betty Boop Musical into a world of color at the CIBC Theatre this winter. It's a pre-Broadway world premiere for the musical starring Jasmine Amy Rogers ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Billy Porter, queer novel, 'Tammy Faye,' queer DJ, Bella Ramsey 2023-11-24
- Billy Porter released his long-awaited new album, Black Mona Lisa, via Island Records UK/Republic Records, and it's executive-produced by Justin Tranter, a press release noted. Porter said, "So many of the songs on my album have ...

Gay News

Photographer Irene Young launches book with stellar concerts 2023-11-20
- "Something About the Women" was appropriately the closing song for two sold-out, stellar concerts at Berkeley's Freight & Salvage November 19, in celebration of the new book of the same name by Irene Young, the legendary ...

Gay News

SAVOR Fairmont Lodge, the MCA's newest sandwich and Krispy Kreme 2023-11-20
- Owning it: As I have mentioned, The Ramova Theatre will officially reopen this fall in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, at 3520 S. Halsted St., as a live music venue, craft brewery, beer garden and grill. However, news ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Music awards, military film, Tom of Finland, Yo-Yo Ma, 'Harley Quinn' 2023-11-17
Video below - Brothers Osborne—a duo that includes gay brother TJ Osborne—won Vocal Duo of the Year for the sixth time at the recent CMA Awards, per a media release. Backstage, TJ told reporters, "I did not expect us ...

Gay News

'Jersey Boys' stars reunite as Midtown Men on Dec. 2 in Glen Ellyn 2023-11-14
- The original stars of the Broadway hit Jersey Boys—Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer—will reunite as Midtown Men on Saturday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m. at McAninch Arts Center's Belushi Performance Hall ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Kaytranada, NFL star, Alexandra Billings, video game, George Michael 2023-11-10
- Out Montreal DJ/producer Kaytranada teased his latest single, "Out of Luck," with Mariah the Scientist, on Twitter, Complex noted. "THIS IS THE ANTHEM!" Kaytra wrote in his quote-tweet of the song playing at a release party. ...

Gay News

Chicago Gay Men's Chorus celebrates 40 years of holiday music in 'The Big 4-0, ho, ho' 2023-11-01
--From a press release - CHICAGO, November 1, 2023 — Chicago Gay Men's Chorus celebrates its 40th Anniversary with The Big 4-0, ho, ho!, a celebration of CGMC's holiday favorites over the last 40 years. Featuring festive arrangements from current Artistic ...

Gay News

In Praise of Sondheim: Theo dedicates the rest of its season to a legendary composer 2023-10-31
- Evanston’s Theo theater company didn't originally set out to devote the majority of its 2023-24 season to the late gay composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. But then the company's artistic leadership saw a creative Sondheim offer ...

Gay News

CABARET Karen Mason celebrating Davenport's 25th anniversary on Nov. 10-12 2023-10-30
- On Nov. 10-12, award-winning vocalist, Broadway star, actress and recording artist Karen Mason will return in concert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Chicago cabaret venue Davenport's, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave. Mason was the first performer ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Queer Eye,' queer films, 'Gen V,' Christian musicians, soap actor 2023-10-27
Video below - The original cast of the groundbreaking TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy will reunite after 20 years, per a press release. Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas and Jai Rodriguez are coming ...

Gay News

UPDATE: Illinois school district approves LGBTQ+ musical 'The Prom' 2023-10-25
- After reconsidering a decision to postpone the event, Community Unit School District 300 will allow Hampshire High School to run its spring musical—The Prom, which is about ...

Gay News

Broadway's Andy Mientus lugs his Jug-Band to Chicago for the holidays 2023-10-24
- Prepare to reconnect with your inner child through puppetry this holiday season with Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. Puppets will play onstage Nov. 15-Dec. 31 at the historic Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Ave., ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Shucked,' Melissa Etheridge, 'Elite,' composer dies, Orville Peck 2023-10-19
- The Broadway production Shucked has set a closing date of Jan. 14, 2024 at the Nederlander Theatre, Playbill noted. At closing, the Tony-nominated musical will have played 28 previews and 327 regular performances. A North American ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.