A huge sensation in the 90s, Better Than Ezra proved last Friday night at The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza that they’re far from a nostalgic memory. Playing for nearly two hours, the band had die-hard fans singing along to their old hits as well as some covers and surprise guest appearances.
Tyrone Wells opened the night playing many tracks off his latest album, Remain. Winning over the audience with his soulful covers of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On a Prayer” and The Police’s “Roxanne,” as well as his captivating storytelling, the night’s surprises started with Wells.
After telling a heartwarming tale of a fan calling him to request Wells’ presence performing at his wedding proposal, Wells’ called out a name in the crowd. “Tara in the balcony, I think you should turn around.” Low and behold, her boyfriend, Steve, kneels on the ground and proposes. Screams and applause erupt throughout the venue as she accepts.
“This song is going out to Tara and Steve,” Wells said before segueing into his hit, “Sea Breeze.” Apparently Wells’ concerts are the place to meet your future significant other. He told the crowd he’ll be playing Highline Ballroom October 7, before ending the night with powerful number and title track off his album, “Remain.”
Shortly before 10:30 Better Than Ezra took the stage to screams. The women around me were still smitten over lead singer Kevin Griffin and could be heard screaming, “He’s so hot! I’d take him home,” continuously throughout the night. Infatuated fans aside, Better Than Ezra put on a pleasing set and showed the crowd that they still know how to rock.
Playing songs off their latest release, Paper Empire, as well as hits off their eight album catalog, Better Than Ezra had all in attendance feeling like they were in college again. “I’m going to be three things to you tonight,” frontman Griffin told the crowd. “A guy, a confidant, and devil’s advocate,” he said before beginning, “A Lifetime.”
Previous hits like 1995’s “Good,” and “Extra Ordinary” mingled with new tracks “Absolutely Still,” the crowd equally receptive. Midway through their set none other than New Orleans’ Manning brothers Peyton and Eli took the stage, before aptly titled track, “King of New Orleans.”
And that was just the first 10 songs. Playing a 23-song set, it was hard to decipher the crowd favorite. “Desperately Wanting” came close as all around me were singing along word for word. “A lot of bands put out a lot of good albums and then it sucks. Not true for us,” Griffin said before playing “I Just Knew,” a moving ballad and last track on their latest release.
The Manning brothers made one last appearance onstage, this time throwing footballs into the crowd before Better Than Ezra began playing AC/DC into which the DJ segued into Black Eyed Peas’ energetic track, “Boom Boom Pow.” Never short on energy, the band pleased the crowd with a five-song encore.
“Thank you guys for so many years,” Griffin said before promising, “We’ll be back around.” From the look of the sold-out venue Friday night, their fans will be waiting.
For more on Better Than Ezra, be sure to visit them on MySpace. To listen to tracks from Tyrone Wells, and catch his current tour dates, check him out on MySpace too.