Roxy Remodelled.....a Toronto View - Mon 16th Jul

Roxy Remodelled.....a Toronto View
16 July 2001

This review is from a Toronto Paper, Eye
July 16, Air Canada Centre.

Like any good piece of theatre, it opened and closed with curtains, boasted enchanting set decor (in an inexplicable forest motif), while the narrative was broken down into three acts -- or make that Bryan Ferry wardrobe changes. Act 1 set everybody straight -- yes, this version of Roxy Redux (featuring originals Ferry, sax man Andy Mackay, guitarist Phil Manzanera and drummer Paul Thompson sans synth-wizard Brian Eno) still knows how to pick their art out of their trash and vice versa, and yes, Bryan Ferry is still the only man on the planet who can make a black leather suit seem dignified.

Machine-gunned opener "Remake/ Remodel" -- the first song on the first Roxy album -- reminded us just how much Thompson's seismic stomping was missed on the later records, while the ensuing parade of vintage material ("Street Life," "Ladytron," "Out of the Blue") showed Roxy have correctly assumed that any renewed interest in the band owes more to a post-Velvet Goldmine/Hedwig reclamation of the early catalogue than to perpetual airplay of "More Than This" on EZ-rock radio. The band's choice of couture -- long overcoats in loud colours that make them look like some glitter-rock mafia -- also proved that Roxy haven't lost their keen sense of the ridiculous.

Stranded's brooding piano piece "A Song for Europe" ushered in Ferry's white-jacket phase, and then it was goodbye '70s sleaze, hello '80s condo background-dinner music: the Flesh + Blood numbers found Mackay playing less like John Coltrane and more like Kenny G., the supporting players each took extended solo spotlight turns and the video screen flashed tranquil footage of rolling clouds and water drops, the sort you'd find on some New Age self-help tape.

A rip through Siren's "Both Ends Burning" (complete with leather-tubed dancing girls) and another Ferry switch to silver lamé prevented a full-on free fall into cocktail-lounge complacency, and once he got "Avalon," "Dance Away" and "Jealous Guy" out of his system, it was back to business.

A blazing "Editions of You" let Mackay and Thompson go apeshit once again, spurred on by some Eno-worthy Theremin freakouts, while set-closer "Virginia Plain" made a case that beneath the infinite layers of pretense and poses, Roxy Music are just a brilliant little rock 'n' roll band. They're still a damn fine disco unit, too, as evinced by the encore "Love Is the Drug" -- an obvious choice, sure, but still a clear-cut cocaine classic, followed by a double shot of For Your Pleasure: a suitably over-the-top "Do the Strand" and the cooly dramatic title track, during which the Roxys left the stage one by one.

Ferry, naturally, exited first, coaxing yet another standing ovation and walking away with a mile-wide grin, content in knowing that, some 30 years on, he can pit bizzarro alien sex-rock against lite-jazz yuppie pop and still walk away looking like the coolest motherfucker in showbiz. STUART BERMAN

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