RID­ING SHOT­GUN

One of Britain's most suc­cess­ful singer-song­writ­ers, Ge­orge Ezra hits the stage in Dubai this month. But who is the baby-faced bloke be­hind chart-top­per Bu­dapest?

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HIS RISE TO FAME COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN STRAIGHT FROM SI­MON COW­ELL’S DREAM JOUR­NAL

It’s some­thing of a mu­si­cal irony, but you’d have to have trav­elled far fur­ther than East­ern Europe to have es­caped the rise to fame of Ge­orge Ezra.

In truth, you’d have to have been liv­ing un­der a rock to dodge the mu­si­cal jug­ger­naut that is the 25-year-old Brit’s ca­reer thus far. Raised in Hert­ford, Eng­land, Ezra doesn’t look like a stereo­typ­i­cal pop star – he con­fesses to walk­ing around Lon­don in a ter­ri­ble sun­hat and shades picked up from a petrol sta­tion to en­sure he at­tracts stares, not for his fa­mous face, but be­cause he looks so aw­ful peo­ple can’t place him – but his rise to fame could have been taken straight from Si­mon Cow­ell’s dream jour­nal. Ezra wasn’t even 21 when his de­but sin­gle,

Bu­dapest, be­gan at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional air­play, go­ing on to claim the num­ber one spot in nu­mer­ous coun­tries de­spite hav­ing been ini­tially re­leased, very qui­etly, as a free down­load. Ezra fol­lowed Bu­dapest with his de­but al­bum,

Wanted On Voy­age, which be­came the UK’s thirdbest-sell­ing al­bum of 2014, chart­ing only be­hind X by Ed Sheeran and In the Lonely Hour by Sam Smith, be­fore ac­tu­ally re­turn­ing to the top of the UK al­bum chart for a se­cond time in Jan­uary 2015.

In fact, so dizzy­ing was his rise, Ezra re­cently con­fessed that he came close to un­rav­el­ling when his tra­jec­tory slowed to an un­fore­seen halt in the sum­mer of 2017, when his in­tended come­back sin­gle Don’t Mat­ter Now flopped in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion, spend­ing just two weeks in the stream­ing top 70. Cri­sis meet­ings were held. The re­lease of his se­cond al­bum was pushed back. A se­cond flop, said Ezra, would have brought into ac­tion a ca­reer plan B.

Thank­fully, he and his team were able to shelve their re­train­ing plans when his first en­tirely self-penned sin­gle, Par­adise, climbed to num­ber two in the UK sin­gles chart in Jan­uary 2018, his high­est po­si­tion in his home­land to date. And by late 2018, the cri­sis of con­fi­dence must have seemed a mere dis­tant mem­ory, with sum­mer 2018’s ear­worm, the plat­inum-cer­ti­fied Shot­gun, be­com­ing Ezra’s first num­ber one song in the UK, Ire­land and Aus­tralia.

Now tour­ing his se­cond al­bum, the crit­i­cally­ac­claimed Stay­ing At Ta­mara’s (in­spired by an Airbnb hol­i­day in Barcelona, in keep­ing with his trav­el­ogue-aslyrics theme), Ezra will take to the stage in Dubai this month. Whether we see an ode to Al Quoz on his third al­bum is any­one’s guess, but one thing that seems clear is that Ezra does his best work on the road. Jan­uary 22

aDWTC, Sheikh Zayed Road, 9pm, from Dhs295. Tel: (800) 3982. georgeezra.com

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