Friday, December 15, 2017

Ezra Furman and the Harpoons as the Plastic Ono Band

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Posted by admin On August - 11 - 2008

~Z.T.~ As I made clear when Pitchfork Music Festival did it, I love the concept of a band playing an album live from beginning to end. It takes a set of balls to cover an album as personal as John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, but a brave performance from Ezra Furman and the Harpoons made for a unique, intimate performance.
Jennie introduced me to Ezra before the show and he endeared himself to me right away. I told him I assumed he’d been listening to the album, even more than I had, and I had to ask about the cookie thing. Ezra said he thought it was a pet name for Yoko. I bought it. I told him I was planning to yell out “Cookie” at the right moment, but he assured me he was already planning on saying it. I knew then that I was in good hands.

With minutes to go before the set, Ezra was rubbing his throat, glancing around nervously and sipping water. I went to the bar to pour some water and grabbed the pitcher from his brother, Noah Furman, a guy I used to play disc golf with all the time a couple summers ago. I was excited to find out I knew the singer’s brother, but was most fascinated that his mom was there.

I had to know what it was like for a mother to hear her son sing an album so focused on mommy issues from “Mother,” the opening track, to the closer “My Mummy’s Dead.” She seemed pretty cool with the concept, though she said it was a bit odd to hear some of the lyrics as the band practiced “Mother” in her living room.

The three piece sounded great and looked sharp, with Ezra and bassist Job Mukkada wearing ties. Ezra’s tie kept getting in the way of his strum, but only enough for him to get visibly self-conscious about it and endear himself to the crowd even more.

There was no gong to kick the album off, but Ezra’s powerful vocals immersed me in”Mother” right away. He wasn’t doing a Lennon impression by any means, but seemed to be channeling some of his spirit, mixed with an early George/Ringo bashfulness.

Ezra wisely deflected credit to John whenever possible, calling it the best album of the ’70s and told us if we liked what we were hearing, we should buy Plastic Ono Band. He delivered on his promise of saying “cookie” during “Hold On,” but whispered it, sounding more like Grover than Cookie Monster. He sounded forceful and angry on “I Found Out,” inspiring and purposeful on “Working Class Hero” and resonated with doubled vocals and guitar on “Isolation.”

I found it a bit ironic to sing “Isolation” as a duet, but it was so powerful you won’t find any complaints here. At the halfway point in the album, Ezra shared some history on John at the time, saying he was mad at George, Paul and the world but not at Ringo (who played on the album.) He tried tiptoeing around it before he came out and said “John was a Cu*t then. Sorry mom.”
I was as shocked as anyone to hear this sweet-faced young man describe John Lennon as a C-word. After he said it, all you could hear was me and Jennie laughing loudly.

They closed strongly, highlighted by the ferocious “Well, Well Well” and “God,” and the gentleness of “Love” before going into a Sex Pistols-esque fast version of “My Mummy’s Dead.” It was a brilliant performance for a young band on the rise and I can’t wait to see you, and them, the next two Mondays at Schuba’s for original material.

1 Response

  1. Festival Crashers » Blog Archive » Festival Crashers 1,000th Post Said,

    […] Ezra Furman and the Harpoons as the Plastic Ono Band […]

    Posted on January 21st, 2010 at 3:54 pm

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