Chicago born songstress/ indie rocker/ psychedelic pop aficionado Ezra Furman took the stage at Festsaal Kreuzberg last Thursday night, Feb 15th, in support of his new record Transangelic Exodus.
Starting at 20:45 sharp and blazing through 26 songs without a support act is not something most musicians would dare to-do, yet Furman was in his element. He performed with a special intimacy that was heightened by his particular brand of first-person narratives and conversational crowd banter. Ezra Furman is a seasoned and talented performer and this show was a musical journey with rock ’n’ roll, witticisms, and queer love oracles.
Starting the show with a wall of sound and fury blazing through the speakers, enthusiastically hammering his guitar, and wearing a long black trench coat the beginning of the evening was reminiscent of his older more rock-focused material. It didn’t take long before the crowd was moving along to his squealing guitar.
With determination and the slightest bit of hysteria, whether acted or real, Furman seemed to dance, flail, and run around the stage with unabated energy.
With determination and the slightest bit of hysteria, whether acted or real, Furman seemed to dance, flail, and run around the stage with unabated energy. This physical performance paired with his ability to fluidly move between genres was captivating as the show took us on an odyssey; he performed with both rage and tenderness, screeching his lungs out in one song and hugging his guitar in the next.
His songs reveal a material honesty – in music the term ‘authentic’ is almost as clichéd a description as perhaps ‘innovative’, but Furman fits the bill. He creates the impression that he is displaying an authentic sense of self on stage personally and sonically. His material seems to be created in a vacuum, there is no pandering to an audience; one gets the feeling he is not making music for anyone but himself and this is part of the allure.
Furman turned a classic American style into a queer getaway ballad singing with full force “we will always be freaks”
One of the evenings stand-out songs was ‘Suck the Blood From My Wound’ which blended classic American rock with Furman’s own twist. Performed as a Bruce Springsteen-esque sing-a-long ready song, Furman turned a classic American style into a queer getaway ballad singing with full force “we will always be freaks”. This sort of subversive head nod to the outcasts is front and centre in Furman’s work, or in his words, “this one is for the queers”.
Transangelic Exodus is an incredible work, with more layers and nuance than previous releases and his on-stage antics breathed life into this already impassioned record. Yelling, flailing, and softly whispering from the stage every action was fervent, he embodied the story and the music and it made you want to listen.