ROCK’N’ROLL is such a seasoned music now, so ingrained in mainstream culture that it is almost a curiosity to find it reclaimed for the outsiders. And Chicago indie rocker Ezra Furman is a curiosity, happy to wave his freak flag (if that’s even a thing anymore) and indulge his neuroses via the glorious medium of low-slung American rock. For the uninitiated, he’s Jonathan Richman in a dress and pearls plus a song – Maraschino Red Dress $8.99 at Goodwill – for the occasion.
Ezra Furman, ABC, Glasgow ****
Furman is an engaging and loveable performer, threading a laidback outsider commentary through the show without over-egging the misfit message – that came through strongly enough in his lyrics which were as heartfelt as the music was celebratory.
His songs, from doo-wop drawls to hectic rockabilly, were packed tight with melody, character and integrity but also an impish spirit, conveyed with the help of his deadpan band, currently revelling in the moniker The Visions. Any resemblance to his previous backing band, The Boy-Friends, was entirely intentional.
Together, they delivered a faithfully freewheeling cover of Kate Bush’s The Hounds of Love with ragged vocals from Furman and added saxophone drone from Tim Sandusky whose supreme contributions throughout the set were not mixed anywhere near loud enough for maximum appreciation.
Nevertheless, the band somehow managed to bust their instruments, necessitating a solo turn from Furman, who turned in a no nonsense rootsy encore including a resonant rendition of Lucinda Williams People Talkin’. “Thank you for staying with us when we are strange,” he said, well knowing that was all part of the appeal.