Bryan Ferry at The London Palladium, UK – 1st May 2018

Posted by Bianca on Tuesday May 1, 2018 Under Art Rock, Glam, New Wave

Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

Trying to hold back the years, septuagenarian Bryan Ferry celebrates the re-release of the 45-year-old eponymous ‘Roxy Music’ album and some of his greatest hits at the London Palladium, he still retains the uber-cool style and panache of someone 20 years younger, and the finest sax appeal with Jorja Chalmers in his backing band.

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There are certain artists that can be called legend or icon, Bryan Ferry fits in that category and at one point in his career he would have sat equally alongside the likes of David Bowie, pushing the avant-garde music and fashion boundaries with each new album or single. At some point during the late 70’s and early eighties he made the move to adopt a more lounge lizard and crooning approach, always immaculately dressed (with a little rough edge) and this has served him well for the last 30 years or so. His audience have remained faithful and he regularly tours all over the world selling out concert halls, even headlining one of the Glastonbury stages a few years ago. Tonight, at the London Palladium we have a well-dressed crowd all eager to hear those old hits again.

A nine-piece backing band, complete with Chris Spedding on guitar play an intro to ‘The Main Thing’ and Bryan Ferry emerges from the side of stage to a huge cheer, he looks the part, wearing a suit that is just this side of fashionably crumpled, a white open necked shirt, and that trademark flicked hair which is greying a lot now and he’s a few more wrinkles – but then again hasn’t any 72 year old!

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Plenty of Roxy Music tunes will be played tonight, particularly from their first album which has recently been re-issued as a deluxe to celebrate its 45th anniversary. However, first we dip into Avalon for ‘The Main Thing’ and then his 80’s solo catalogue for ‘Don’t Stop The Dance’. He has an ability to make Dad dancing look cool, a hunch to the left, drop the shoulder, then the same to the right, gently shuffling without ever breaking a sweat. An effortless slick performance and his band burst into life for ‘Ladytron’, Chris Spedding playing some steady guitar riffs and those castanets could barely be heard. However, a key musical ingredient for any Ferry tune is a Saxophone, and one of the stars of the show is sax player Jorja Chalmers, looking incredibly chic in her black cat suit and polished heels, almost like she had stepped off a Roxy album cover. Jorja teases at first by standing towards the back of the stage but after a few songs is allowed into the front spotlight and delivers breath-taking solo after solo. If Bryan Ferry’s voice was fading slightly then Chalmers more than made up for it with her performance. Suitably supported by another virtuoso in violinist Marina Moore meant that the band were capable of creating some surprising soundscapes and proving that the sound system here at the Palladium was in great shape.

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During the mid-part of the set it got a little introspective and you could sense the restlessness of those that wanted the hits and nothing more, he could have played 2 hours of tracks like ‘Over You’ and ‘Dance Away’ but this wasn’t billed as a greatest hits tour. Instead we had some deeper cuts like the title track of his solo album ‘Mamouna’ and ‘Zamba’ from Bete Noire. Whilst they showed his higher trembling vocal and provided a break in the dance with more of a brooding feel and some nice soft green lighting, it wasn’t quite the same as ‘Do The Strand’ which offered a much needed change of pace.

The casual fans were all happy from ‘More Than This’ onwards though, as it was an unrelenting hit after hit package with ‘Avalon’ followed by the classic ‘Love is the Drug’ and then ‘Virginia Plain’. Hard to believe this guy is in his 70’s and still manages to get an audience on their feet and dancing in the aisles.

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It was a game of two halves and the upbeat tempo second half won quite easily, the encore opened with ‘Lets Stick Together’ complete with spine tingling sax solo from Chalmers and the backing singers cat calling yowls, then Ferry picks up his harmonica to bring it all to a close. A slow sumptuous cover of Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ followed and with everyone calling for more he returned to play a final Roxy Music track ‘Editions of You’.

This was a superb show from start to finish from a true British icon of music, he’s about to go across Europe and the USA too with the same tour, and expect a return back to these shores in the Autumn.

SETLIST: The Main Thing / Don’t Stop the Dance / Ladytron / Out of the Blue / Oh Yeah / A Waste Land-Windswept / Bête Noire / Zamba / Stronger Through the Years / Slave to Love / Bitter-Sweet / Mamouna / Remake-Remodel / Do the Strand / In Every Dream Home a Heartache / If There is Something / More Than This / Avalon / Love is the Drug / Virginia Plain / ENCORE: Lets Stick Together / Jealous Guy / Editions of You

LISTENING: Reissued 1st album ‘Roxy Music’ remastered & released February 2018

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