THERE WILL not be a better live music gig in Galway in 2019 than the one Ezra Furman delivered in the Róisín Dubh in July as part of the Galway International Arts Festival.
The power of his music; the issues his lyrics raise and confront; and his challenging, stereotype shattering, identity as a non-gender conforming, bisexual, man of deep religious faith are, perhaps, for us, what it was like for an earlier generation to witness David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.
As Furman announced at that gig, this is his "Jewish punk-folk" record. There is little folk. The Judaism is informative but not explicit, but full-on punk dominates the album's 28 minute run.
Few genres can match punk's capacity to deliver both cathartic howls of rage and succinct summations of complex socio-political issues, and Furman is one who does this well, such as on the sludge-metal of 'Trauma', and Dead Kennedys-esque 'Rated R Crusaders' which questions reductive polarities: "When you picture me it doesn't matter what you see...polarising binary is really not my scene."
There are moments of mellow within the maelstrom. The Bowie/Bolan-esque, 'Transition From Nowhere to Nowhere' has a haunting, melancholy, melody, concluding with the grim image: "I tried to ask what it means to be a man./They threw me in the back of a truck and tied my hands." Similarly gender disrupting, and a moment of real tenderness, is the fifties styled ballad, 'I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend'.
Like those other great punk polemicists, The Clash, who declared, "The future is unwritten", Furman delivers his own call-to-arms on 'Evening Prayer aka Justice', equally derived from his faith, sexuality, and political outlook: "If you’ve got the taste for transcendence. Then translate your love into action. And participate in the fight now. For a creed, you can truly believe."