No pressure on George here, but I was giving up not one, but two, football matches to be here – missing Linfield’s match against Institute as well as Man United being on TV.
At around 9.10pm, George entered the stage to the sound of Soul Bossa Nova by Quincy Jones, which you know better as the theme tune to Austin Powers, though you would hardly describe him as an International Man Of Mystery, his drummer banging out a thunderous drum beat and ventured close to In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins, the lighting went similarly thunderous as he took his place at the mic stand.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the cue for inclement weather as Belfast stayed dry, despite rain earlier in the day.
He jumped straight into Cassy O, a song which was my introduction to his music, and the same for a lot of people, as the crowd along “Cassy oh oh oh oh oh” at the chorus.
This might have been his third concert in Belfast, but his introduction to Northern Ireland on the other side of the Glenshane Pass, in Derry as part of Other Voices.
His two other concerts in Belfast, both at The Limelight, have represented milestones in his career.
In 2014, the performed there shortly after his debut album Wanted On Voyage had got to Number 1, though it is a concert that is yet to reach the mythical levels of Oasis at the same venue on the night Definitely Maybe did the same.
Fast forward two and a half years to May 2017, and he was back to preview songs from his second album in what was billed as the Top Secret Tour. This concert, the first of a series of outdoor concerts called CHSQ (abbreviation fans will note that this means Switzerland Squared) was anything but secret, selling out well in advance.
By the time Ezra took to the stage, Linfield were 2-0 up, so I could enjoy the concert without having to worry about the score, although I thought that when they went 2-0 up just as Noel Gallagher entered the stage at The Odyssey in May. Thankfully, there was no repeat of what happened that night.
From one Gallagher to another, entering this concert had similar problems to Liam Gallagher’s at Ormeau Park in June. There was an equal split amongst security staff when entering, but an unequal gender split in the make up of the crowd, which was largely female.
While men were able to quickly negotiate shorter queues for getting in, women were having to wait in larger queues (the reverse was the situation at the Liam Gallagher concert)
Not very convenient if you are attending as part of a mixed gender group, as you have to stand about and wait for the rest of your party to get searched.
Is it really to hard to collate information from ticket sales and staff accordingly?
Of those that were in the venue, it was infested with rancid hags. Everywhere you went, puff puff vape vape.
I know I mention this at every outdoor concert, but I will continue to mention it until it is addressed.
I am fed up of being held to ransom by inconsiderate arseholes. Why should I have to spend evenings holding my nose and covering my nose when watching my favourite acts?
Belfast likes to market itself as some sort of trendy and cosmopolitan place to visit. It’s not, it’s a rancid shithole. Outdoor concerts are just one of many things you can’t do in the city without having cigarette smoke blown into your face.
As said before, smoke free venues should be part of the licensing criteria for outdoor events. If Eventsec can be instructed to confiscate bars of chocolate, they can confiscate cigarettes and vapes.
Time for Belfast City Council to take some action and address this. Their apathy will give us a shithole of a city to live in.
Sadly, our Politicians are more interested in avoiding parking fees and complaining about the names of bus stops than tackling real issues that affect people.
You know i’m right on this matter. Smokers, feel free to justify your behaviour. You can’t, because you’re scummy tramps.
When he performed at The Limelight in 2017, Ezra was debuting material from his second album. Barring the single Don’t Matter Now, which had just been released, nobody really knew the new songs. By now, we were all familiar with them.
Rather than the usual “How are you INSERT NAME OF TOWN?” and “YOU GUYS ROCK!!!” between songs, Ezra told stories of the origins of the songs, how they came to be and what inspired them. There were some interesting stories.
A lot of his work has been inspired by visiting Barcelona, a song he performed. I shouldn’t really need to tell you that it’s not a Freddie Mercury/Montserrat Caballe cover.
It wasn’t all fun, as he remarked that spending a month housesharing with a stanger might not have been his smartest idea.
It was the story of a visit to Sweden that produced the biggest cheer. A friend had put him in touch with three Swedish women to live with. The problem was, they love Eurovision and they were making him watch it for the first time. He wanted to have some alcohol while watching it, but the town he was in has an alcohol curfew, so he had to resort to purchasing some rum illegally on the black market, to the cheers of the crowd, with Ezra remarking “You’re better than that”.
Naturally, i’ve reported him to Rex Banner.
His storytelling usually involved accidentally revealing what song was next within two sentences, meaning there was no suspense in his stories.
He might have only two albums, but Ezra has a lot of hits, all of which were performed – Budapest, Blame It On Me, Barcelona, Budapest, Don’t Matter Now, Listen To The Man and Paradise.
As he left the stage, the crowd began singing Shotgun, a subtle hint for what they wanted during the encore, which he delivered.
As fans left the venue (which took an age, due to only one exit) we were treated to Public Address announcements which could be best described as Yer Da taking control of a microphone in a pub to do a stand-up routine. After a few pints. Every bit as horrific as it sounds.