Review: EZRA AXELROD: Songs From The American Motel – Leicester Square Theatre


Leicester Square Theatre

I first became aware of Ezra Axelrod on either MySpace or Facebook a few years ago. The honesty and openness in his songwriting kept me interested through the years, but I have somehow managed not to see him perform live until now. After tonight though, I’m shocked I have deprived my intellect, my eyes and my ears of the all-round treat that he provides for so long.

Accompanying the launch of his album, American Motel, this show takes us on an intimate journey through Axelrod's 25 years, from growing up as a nerdy kid in La Grande, Oregon through to his life as a singer / songwriter and gay rights activist living in London’s Soho district, with some eye-opening tales of love and lust along the way (such as the ethical minefield of a student/teacher affair, or arguing with his boyfriend in the middle of a South American hurricane).

Featuring all 12 songs from the album, Songs From The American Motel is a mix of music, theatre and comedy. His evident willingness to share some of the most intimate moments of his life through stories and incredibly personal lyrics reminded me of Tori Amos; a comparison I hope neither would mind me making. Whilst this openness is admirable and adds an excitingly emotional edge, I feel that a slightly stronger sense of self-censorship in one or two places could open his music to the wider audience it deserves, although Axelrod’s manner is so deliciously flirty that a little sauce goes a long, long way, and his confidence and wit shine throughout the evening.

The songs are catchy and Axelrod displays an impressive vocal range, perfectly complemented by a superb supporting band of Dwayne Washington and Tim Oxbrow on supporting vocals, Tom Parsons on additional vocals and bass, Willemijn Steenbakkers on violin, Patrick Rowe on guitar and Fernando Medina on drums.

A few numbers stand out over and above the others. Pornstars and Broken Hearts is an insanely catchy ode to the adult entertainment industry, while 10 Million Lights is a deeply poignant number about finding the one person you want to settle down with in a busy, but lonely, city. But the one that stuck in my head all the way home and made me buy the album is the title number, American Motel.

A month-long residency at a central London venue is an unusual way to launch an album, but one that affords this unique artist the opportunity to show off his genuine personality and musical gifts in a fun and entertaining way.

Ezra Axelrod plays Songs From The American Motel at The Lounge, Leicester Square Theatre,6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX until 03 March. Tickets £15 from