New York: A Roxy Reunion,Sleek Suits & All - Mon 23rd Jul

New York: A Roxy Reunion,Sleek Suits & All
23 July 2001

By ISAAC GUZMAN New York Daily News Feature Writer

If nothing else, the reunited members of Roxy Music proved Monday night that they still know how to wear a well-tailored suit. Singer Bryan Ferry, in fact, wore three of them during the start of the group's two-show run at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
For the first time since breaking up 18 years ago, the principal members of Roxy Music - Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera and saxophonist Andy Mackay - have resurrected their sultry homage to the plush life. But like the high fashion image for which they became famous in the 1970s, many of their lesser-known designs have not aged anywhere near as well as their classics.Even though Roxy Music's live performance did not impress, singer Bryan Ferry's wardrobe certainly did.

On Monday, Roxy Music touched on every phase of their 12-year career, from the early, proto-glam-rock strains of 1972's "Re-make/Re-model" to the supple, ethereal romanticism of 1982's "Avalon." But while the group's blend of rock, R&B and experimental synthesizer sounds made them a pioneer of glam rock and New Wave, in concert their frenetic rhythms and jittery keyboard solos sounded perilously dated.
Even Ferry's obsession with swimming pools, beautiful women, country homes and the trappings of luxury seemed oddly quaint. Perhaps those old songs foreshadowed the crass materialism of today's rappers, but they now sound more like the naive fantasies of a coal miner's son (which Ferry is) impersonating a monied playboy.
The dashing bon vivant, however, has become Ferry's defining role and he played it to the hilt. Still a lithe clotheshorse, he changed from an iridescent black pleather outfit into a white dinner jacket and then finally donned a metallic silver suit.
With his easy smile and smooth moves, he lived up to his billing as the Cary Grant of pop music, seeming eternally distinguished even as he sang trite lyrics such as "I hope something special will step into my life." His crooner's take on John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" was one of the night's high points. Despite the archaic sound of obscure tunes such as "Editions of You" and "Ladytron," there were some explosive musical passages. Manzanera and second guitarist Chris Spedding exchanged vibrant solos, with Manzanera displaying a range that encompassed everything from slinky, screaming leads to dreamy, minimalist flourishes.
Backing musician Lucy Wilkins took several winning violin solos. She also re-created, on a vintage keyboard, the same electronic squiggles and warped melodies that first brought attention to early band member Brian Eno, who no longer performs live.
But enduring hits such as "Love Is the Drug" and "Street Life" weren't able to overcome the campy antiquity of "Do the Strand" and "Editions of You." Hearing the band reanimate their back catalogue was something like leafing through the faded pages of a vintage Vogue, peering into a remote, exclusive cocktail party that ended decades ago.

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