Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends are the best rock and roll band working today. If you don’t agree I’m guessing it’s for one of the following reasons: a) You’ve never listened to them, or b) You’re in a band and think that you’re the best band working today (you’re not). Over the past couple years Furman and his band have created two of the best records to see a release, and the live show they put on is always extraordinary.
Last night they played in their favorite venue, Space. A return home for the Evanston natives after a long stint in Europe. They played two sets with no opener and covered a lot of ground in the Furman songbook. They even played a track recorded for Day Of The Dog that they decided not to use on the album. It’s actually a really good tune that has lines like “It’s good to be drunk on the weekend, but it’s better to be drunk all week” and “I have a bright future in music as long as I don’t find true happiness.”
The first set was shorter, maybe a half hour or so that started off with “I Wanna Destroy Myself” and included a cover of Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town classic “Promised Land.” They also covered Paul Baribeau’s “The Mall,” which features on Day Of The Dog.
The band seemed to be having fun and looked good on stage. Ezra came out in his Buddy Holly attire (minus the glasses), which stood out among the plaid and leather that covered the rest of the band. The lighting was changing a lot, but most prominently a bright red shone brighter than the others, matching Ezra’s nail polish and lipstick-and for the second set his red dress.
There wasn’t too much time in between sets. Just enough for me to look through my photos quickly and delete the ones that were too soft or blurry. It couldn’t have been ten minutes before they were back up there ready to get the second, much longer set going.
Part 2 was a lot heavier on Year Of No Returning, which I was happy about. Starting with “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” and also hitting “American Soil” and “Queen Of Hearts” alongside newer cuts like “Cold Hands” and the single “My Zero.” Ezra seemed more comfortable during the second half (well, comfortable for Ezra), and the whole thing felt a bit more loose and spontaneous.
The banter was often just Ezra being happy to be home and gracious to all his friends and family in the crowd, talking about feeling alone and how sometimes he hates traveling around to play music (but not the playing music part). He’s always struck me as a very sweet person with some seriously dark thoughts that he writes down and sings about. On this night, he was almost jolly, happy to be back among those he loves.
The encore was a blazing version of “Take Off Your Sunglasses” with the band and as they walked off stage it looked like Ezra was thinking of following and then grabbed his guitar for a solo song. That ended up being one of my favorite songs of the last decade “Don’t Turn Your Back On Love.” He played it beautifully and as the final notes of guitar were being strummed he leaned into the mic and said “Let’s call that a concert.”