'Ezra' is the name on the backdrop. You've heard of young George, right? The Hertfordshire lad with the syrupy baritone and boyband good looks has been making noise for a while now, first with the release of chart favourite, Budapest (never off the radio) and eventually, debut album, Wanted on Voyage (a UK number one). Another sweetly-sung folkster born out of time? Perhaps, but George Ezra (21) certainly knows his way around a chorus.
Tonight, at a sold-out Academy, that broken smile of his is enough to reduce a predominantly female crowd to mush. Bluesy, stylish and quietly confident, there's no X Factor story here; just an affable young player climbing up the ladder with good tunes and solid showmanship.
The infectious Cassy O' tells us George ain't no one-hit-wonder. A three-piece backing unit fills in the blanks as our leading boy shuffles from indie-folk groove- shaker to reflective, song and dance man.
It says a lot about his likeability that, even when discussing album recordings, Ezra (inset) holds our attention.
Those sunny, effervescent melodies were made for sound-tracking films. Leaving It Up to You was originally recorded with a choir, so tonight, the fans are asked to put in a little overtime. "Forget the choir, come with me," says George, delighted with our input. I wonder if he thought the same after Budapest (careful with those high notes, folks).
An enthralling vocalist, George Ezra might yet have the makings of a strident rock 'n' roll man (things get loud on Spectacular Rival). But he's also quite the pop star, and that unexpected cover of Girls Just Want to Have Fun is a hoot. 'Ezra' is the name on the backdrop - we won't be forgetting it any time soon. HHHHi