Rating: 4.5 out of 5
At the end of its near month-long festival, Brighton was lucky enough to play host to two extremely good acts as The Brighton Dome welcomed both Ezra Furman and Du Blonde to the stage. Ezra has been touring hard since the release of his latest album 'Transangelic Exodus', and both he and his band The Visions were clearly at one with all their material, dealing deftly as they did with the odd curve-ball that was thrown into the mix on the night.
Prior to either band appearing on stage there was a third act on the bill. Honey Harper, wearing a fringed black Western jacket and taking to the stage a la Sandie Shaw, worked his way through some rather downbeat, minimalist tracks that barely recorded a BPM before his band exited stage right. William Fussell remained and closed out his set with a take on the Dusty Springfield standard 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me'. It has to be said it was one of the more bizarre moments of the night as William sung his karaoke version in a style not dissimilar to a Vic Reeves club singer (if David Lynch had been there to capture it all on video it wouldn't have seemed remotely out of place).
Du Blonde played no covers but did deliver a great performance as they worked their way through both old and new material. Beth Jeans Houghton was on fine form and humorously loquacious throughout. She and her band, minus the bass player who was playing elsewhere in a metal band, looked and sounded like they were thoroughly enjoying the whole evening. In between tales of seagull poop, the want to have babies, explanations of wardrobe choices and previous wardrobe malfunctions they delivered a blistering set of songs to the delight of the ever increasing crowd. The new material, including 'Holiday Resort', sounded just as good as some of their songs off of the critically acclaimed album 'Welcome Back To The Milk'. There was a stirring, perfectly delivered performance of 'Hunter' and an impassioned finale in the form of 'Black Flag' before Beth and her band made way for Ezra.
After a moving dedication to 'a dear friend' and Brightonian, Ally, Ezra Furman and The Visions took to the stage for the headline performance of the night. The band looked resplendent in their matching white outfits, rather like a throwback to some 70s Motown act, whilst Ezra took centre stage as a compelling and mesmerising frontman. 'Cherry Lane', from 'The Day Of The Dog', kick-started the set before an electrified 'Psalm 151' and 'The Great Unknown' showcased the quality of Ezra's latest album.
"The set list is changing on the fly", Ezra explained as the show schedule went through some amendments. "Our saxophone got sick, it's in the hospital, we hope it gets better before the end of the show." (Thankfully it did). 'Driving Down To L.A' and Ezra's tour-de-force song "About queer misery and shopping for clothes", 'Maraschino Red Dress $8:99 At Goodwill', ensured that there was no loss of momentum with Ezra coping more than admirably with the odd hiccup; "I'm quite enjoying it actually, don't get the wrong idea." 'Ordinary Life' and 'My Zero' followed before Ezra's upbeat, joyous celebration of " a new song, but a flash-back" in the form of 'I Lost My Innocence'.
Although clearly not intended, the need to mix things up along the way only added to the atmosphere and made the performance all the more real and unique. Ezra's was a live music performance in all respects and the changes only served to intensify the evening. It was very apt that he and the band tore into 'Anything Can Happen' before a rousing rendition of 'And Maybe God Is A Train'. Ezra too allowed himself the indulgence of a cover version as mid-set he launched into the Kate Bush classic, 'Hounds Of Love'.
"Refugees have been influencing our songs lately", Ezra explained before he and his band lifted the roof of The Brighton Dome with a stunning, no holds barred performance of 'No Place'. 'Love You So Bad' and 'Suck The Blood From My Wound' completed a triple helping of late set highlights from Ezra's brilliant album, 'Transangelic Exodus'. 'Tip Of A Match', and finally, 'Restless Year', closed out the very entertaining set. "We must bid you goodnight" Ezra said before he broke into the last track of the night. As midnight approached 'Restless Year' concluded a night of unmissable performances both from Ezra Furman & The Visions and Du Blonde.
Brighton Dome bore witness to not one but two great sets on Saturday night as The Brighton Festival drew to a breath-taking close. Ezra's delivery was that of a frontman in command of his own destiny, immersed in his own creativity and artistry delivering a spellbinding performance to the captivated and very appreciative crowd.