George Ezra @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre

Playing tunes and telling tales: that was UK songwriter George Ezra’s modus operandi this past Friday night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, as he went into full troubadour mode for the duration of the night. Ezra regaled the crowd with a story for every song, mostly about his travels through Europe and how they influenced his new record, Staying at Tamara’s.

The eternally affable Brit and his rich baritone were warmly received by the crowd; both his old and new tracks met with rapturous applause and deafening sing-alongs. Even Ezra seemed taken aback at the fervour of the audience, grinning as they proved to know every word to his just-released tunes. It’s hard not to sing along with gems like “Don’t Matter Now” and “Paradise”, the latter also being eminently dance-able with its four-to-the-floor rhythm section.

Ezra and his hearty voice also gave the audience a little insight into his creative process as he outlined how he came up with the ideas for the videos for new songs “Saviour” and “Hold My Girl”. “I wanted to put on the cheapest suit I could find, sing karaoke to my own songs, and get progressively more drunk as the video goes on. And guess what? The label said yes!”

The big guns came out right at the end, with the jangly “Blame it on Me” being played just before the end of the regular set and huge hit “Budapest” saved for the very end of the encore. It can’t be a coincidence that the weather is finally trending upwards; surely George Ezra’s warm and energetic set had something to do with it.

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