Music review: George Ezra, Hydro, Glasgow

Packed with crowd-pleasing singalong numbers, George Ezra’s Hydro show was met with varying degrees of rapture by his Glasgow fans, writes Malcolm Jack

George Ezra, Hydro, Glasgow ***

Imagine an extremely amiable if slightly boring backpacker who, rather than working in bars to fund their travels, instead turns their road diaries into mainstream, radio-hogging guitar pop hits, and you’ve basically got George Ezra. The bluesy baritone voiced Hertfordshire heartthrob beloved by daughters and their mums alike, has hit paydirt from writing uncomplicated songs predominantly about, as he put it during one wistful reminiscence at this sold-out Hydro show, “escaping and dreaming and taking yourself away”. And who doesn’t need more of that in their lives?

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Levels of fan hysteria fluctuated acutely throughout a 90-minute set spanning Ezra’s three albums to date – one very young girl sitting next to me sensibly snoozed in her mum’s lap awaiting the final, inevitable slew of big singalongs. And yet it was hard not to be won over at all times by the weapons-grade good cheer that radiated form Ezra and his slick band, as typified by his roving horn players dancing away with one another to the shuffling strains of Cassy ’O.

George Ezra performs at the Hydro, Glasgow, September 2022 PIC: Calum Buchan
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Pretty Shining People evinced Ezra’s talent for uncynically capturing a plain good feeling in a song. Barcelona – no prizes for guessing where he’d been before he wrote that one – did nothing to help anyone’s spiralling energy bills by illuminating the arena with the glow of so many phone camera lights that it felt like the sun had suddenly re-arisen.

Manila took us to Southeast Asia and Green Green Grass the Caribbean. Blame It On Me concluded with a samba dance party coda replete with roving horns and percussion, before Ezra’s big breakout hit and backpackers’ anthem Budapest transported the arena to new heights of rapture. However, said rapture was on nowhere near the same scale as that which met the bass-slapping ode to endless summer, Shotgun – a song which alone could probably pay for Ezra’s holidays for the rest of his days.