Even Jim Halpert couldn’t fathom the eye roll that I imagine follows this sentence: “Oh cool, Music.Defined. is writing about Ezra Furman…again.” That’s fine. Trust me, I’m as baffled as you are. Since I first started listening to Ezra back in 2010 I’ve probably written about him 20 times. Easily more than any other artist I’ve covered (maybe Sons Of An Illustrious Father is close). I don’t go out of my way to write about him, either. He just happens to amaze me every single time I hear a new song or go see him and The Boy-friends perform.
Last night at Lincoln Hall was the best set I’ve seen them play so far. I know you’re probably thinking “didn’t you say that about their show at SubT like 3 months ago?” Yeah I very well may have, but that doesn’t make my statement false. Ezra himself, talking about how hometown shows used to make him really nervous last night, said that he doesn’t need to worry anymore because they’ve become a better band. Now it’s just a playground for them to have fun and we in the audience get to enjoy it as well.
When I met Ezra for the first time in 2011 he was a nervous guy, unsure of himself in a lot of ways. Fast forward a few years and he appears to have accepted himself and become much more confident. Acceptance is a big part of Furman’s appeal-his live show is all about loving yourself and everyone else and forget all the people who wanna spew venomous hatred your direction. I go to a lot of concerts in Chicago, and I can say after years of research that an Ezra Furman audience is the best in which you can hope to be.
The set was made up mostly of songs from the newest record Perpetual Motion People. Nearly the whole album got played, intermingled with tunes like his Harpoons track “Mysterious Power” and “I Wanna Destroy Myself” from Day Of The Dog. The opening verse of “Cherry Lane” was just Ezra on guitar and vocals before the band jumped in to the track. He delivered that first verse slow and steady, to the point it almost felt like a different song.
I’d like to see the band play in a different city to gauge the difference between Chicago and every other place they hit around the world. This is their hometown so almost everyone in the crowd knows someone in the band (if not all of them) and they sing along and dance, knowing every word down to the pauses for breath.
Highlights for me included: a great version of “Wobbly” featuring some fantastic sax from Tim Sandusky, hearing everyone sing the lyrics to “My Body Was Made,” and of course the version of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher,” which Ezra proclaimed as the finest song ever written.
The problem with going to see Ezra Furman is that it just makes me want to listen to his records more, which pretty much means I’m not listening to anything else. And then I listen to the records over and over so I want to go see him live again. It’s a vicious circle, but one inside which I’m more than happy to live.