From Budapest to Boston

by Karissa Perry

photography courtesy of Maisie Mansfield-Greenwald

“Hello Boston,” came a familiar, British-accented voice, sending the audience into a frenzy.

To kick off the release of his latest album, Staying at Tamara’s, UK native George Ezra stopped by Boston’s House of Blues on Sunday, April 22, garnering an impressive line even before the doors opened.

However, equally impressive was Noah Kahan, who opened for Ezra.

Kahan emerged from the blue light flooding the stage and began by strumming a few chords before launching into the insanely clap-able “Fine,” which was one of his singles from last year.

The soulful, pop-meets-folk artist hails from Vermont and has a slew of singles currently out. His latest release was this year’s Hurt Somebody, a vocally-driven EP that features Julia Michaels on a track of the same name.

The audience simultaneously bopped their heads as he weaved in-and-out of falsetto in “Passenger” from his latest and first EP.

The 21-year-old revealed that this was his “biggest venue ever” and continued with the reflective “Sink” and percussive “Please,” before the lights and energy shifted when he performed a solo version of “Hurt Somebody.” Red hues filled the stage and Kahan closed his eyes while the audience cheered whenever his raspy voice came through.

While “Hurt Somebody” was easily the highlight of his 30-minute set, his concluding track, “Young Blood,” was equally well-received, with the audience devotedly singing along.

As the lights dimmed following Kahan’s performance, the anticipation rose – especially when crew members began to set up the stage. Almost an hour into the show, the first round of cheers started as the band filed out.

A final figure emerged and despite the lack of spotlight, everyone knew who it was.

Ezra gave a few excited waves before jumping into “Cassy O’,” a lively opener that quickly escalated the crowd’s energy. He moved around the stage, alternating between strumming his guitar and dancing during the musical interludes.

“Get Away” followed suit and was the first track performed off Staying at Tamara’s before he slowed things down with the popular, ballad-esque “Barcelona.” The audience swayed in response as the fresh-faced singer’s surprisingly low baritone filled the venue.

He continued by alternating between songs from his latest album and 2014’s Wanted on Voyage. “Saviour,” from the former, was especially notable, as Ezra voice’s rose and sank in pitch.

“I just thought ‘s***, you have to write some songs,’” he later said, in reference to his four-year break between albums.

“Don’t Matter Now” seemed like an interplay between Ezra’s deep vocals and the trumpet player’s dispersed solos, as he danced around the stage and smiled during the brassy riffs. The following “Paradise,” which is Ezra’s highest-charting UK single, was clearly a favorite and was met with passionate singing from the crowd.

The string of upbeat tracks was temporarily replaced by a round of more revealing, melancholy songs, such as “Hold My Girl” and “Song 6.” However, this was short-lived when he hinted at the audience about his final song, saying it was “about being a passenger.” The cheering that followed was one of the loudest of the night.

Everyone seemed to be in motion during “Shotgun,” as Ezra sang about “feeling like a someone” and the stage faded to a dreamy, aquamarine color.

He exited amidst the audience’s insanity, yet the missing performance of “Budapest” alone was enough to guarantee an encore – and two songs later, which included an impressive cover of Rudimental’s “These Days,” Ezra launches into a story.

“I bought a train ticket to travel around Europe for a month,” he explains. “and I skipped the Budapest stop.”

The dropping of that word releases a few shouts and cries from the audience.

Ezra continued by saying that, despite the title, the song is not about the city of Budapest at all. Rather, he had plans to travel to the city but didn’t end up going because he was hungover from the night before. He smiles and lets out an endearing laugh before taking to his guitar.

In what was essentially a duet with the audience, Ezra performs the international hit and ends the night in the best way possible.