George Ezra

March 15, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Success is like being institutionalised in some ways. Your meals are made for you, you are told what to do and every moment is accounted for, scheduled, appraised. Lose that structure, that imposed purpose to your day, and it's small wonder folk can feel out at sea when they are let out.

George Ezra felt a bit like that when he went back home in the summer of 2016. The breakout star of the previous two years, his 2014 debut album Wanted On Voyage, had sold more than three million copies.

In terms of units shifted, that year only Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith outstripped Ezra, a boy-next-door with a booming baritone.

Wanted On Voyage featured a walloping six singles, including airy strum-a-long Budapest, Cassy O's skiffle pop song and Listen To The Man, a hammock-swinging number the video to which featured Sir Ian McKellen lip syncing Ezra's vocals.

That was a send-up of the disconnect listeners feel when they realise Ezra's old-man pipes are coming from what appears to be a fresh faced youth.

And feeling disconnected is exactly what Ezra felt that summer. Sitting in his childhood bedroom in the Hertford estate where years before he had listened to Dylan, Lead Belly and Howlin' Wolf, he watched his performance at Glastonbury earlier that day.

Things had gone great – his sunny tunes had attracted one of the Pyramid Stage's biggest crowds. Over the previous years, he'd signed a record deal while still in his teens, been nominated for four Brit awards and seen audiences around the world joyfully sing his lyrics back at him.

But being back home, it felt to Ezra, still then in his early 20s, that in a sense, he had gone nowhere, been stuck in a period of arrested development while his old friends had grown up.

“You’re spat out the other end,” Ezra recalled of the time. “Your friends are at work Monday to Friday, so you’re waiting for them to finish so you can go the pub. But they’re going to the pub to have two pints after a day’s work, and that’s fine. It’s a reward. But doing that when you’ve done f***-all all day really gets you down after a while.”

Needing a gear change, spent a month in a shared Airbnb in Barcelona, a ramschackle set-up more student squat than boutique hotel. The transient creative types that inhabited the apartment of Tamara, the host, inspired him to write every day, as did the increasing turmoil of the second half of 2016: the murder of Jo Cox MP, the Brexit vote and, in November, the Hunger Games-style spectacle of Donald Trump being elected US President.

Ezra's reaction was to write explicit songs of support and encouragement for Staying At Tamara's, released last year.

Pretty Shining People, its lead single and opening track, is typical of the album's mood: world-weary but hopeful. Get Away directly addressed his challenges with anxiety in a way that felt relateable and empowering. Number 1 single Shotgun did similar while striking a vibe as sunny as Paul Simon's Graceland, an influence he freely acknowledges.

On New Year's Day, Ezra performed a version of that track on Vic & Bob's Big Night Out. Accompanied by a noisy fan heater and the cleaner vacuuming the studio, he was a great sport: self-effacing, unassuming, grounded.

This is key to Ezra's appeal. His personal charm and creative lack of edge is why people like him. To paraphrase countless fans and commenters, Ezra's music makes people feel a little safer, happier and uplifted. That's no bad thing these days.