Roxy Music Plays It Again - Tue 17th Jul

Roxy Music Plays It Again
17 July 2001

From the Boston Globe
By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff, 7/19/2001

Roxy Music was about a third of the way through its set Tuesday night at the FleetBoston Pavilion, playing the elegiac ''A Song for Europe,'' which is about, like many a Roxy song, memories of a love lost. As the majestic music swelled, Bryan Ferry, dressed in a black sharkskin suit, sang, ''There is nothing to share but yesterday.''

And that is what Roxy Music - disbanded for 18 years - shared on the first date of its first US tour since the group split up. But what yesterdays: The irony and gleeful chaos of its early period; the sleek sheen, percussive accents, and romance of its middle and later periods; and, moreover, the engaging elegance of one of England's best-ever rock bands.

It recalled something the Kinks' Ray Davies once told me: ''The Kinks are the only band where you can leave a show and be over the moon with enjoyment and yet walk away disappointed.'' As with the Kinks, Roxy Music has a catalog so rich and gives a concert so (comparatively) short, there's a lot of history you miss hearing.

Still, for the most part the band picked songs wisely, with eight of the 18 selections coming from its first three albums, A-level, groundbreaking affairs all.

The concert kicked off with three gems, ''Remake/Remodel,'' ''Street Life,'' and ''Ladytron.'' In the latter, Ferry crooned, ''I use you and I abuse you. Still, you don't suspect me.'' The cad!

Of course, what was once radical in terms of structure, arrangment, and attitude has been somewhat tempered by time. The pleasure, however, has not diminished. When guitarist Phil Manzanera and saxophonist Andy Mackay leapt into the swirl of sound in the chaotic, dreamy ''Ladytron'' or the extended, bluesy version of ''My Only Love,'' heaven was in reach. This was heady rock 'n' roll without pointless solos, ensemble rock 'n' roll with a point.

Ferry is one of rock's most commanding vocalists, but a fair part of the enjoyment came during the instrumental mesh when Ferry would step back (or move to piano) and the gears of the band would lock in. Instruments once foreign to the rock mix (sax, oboe, violin) were deployed. There was a dexterous weave during both ''Avalon'' and ''Dance Away,'' and a lovely duet with Mackay and violinist Lucy Wilkins on the instrumental ''Tara.''

This incarnation of Roxy Music also included the band's original drummer, the hard-hitting Paul Thompson, and was augmented by six other players, including guitarist Chris Spedding and pianist Colin Good, the latter the bandleader on Ferry's last solo tour. Sarah Brown handled soaring and soulful backing vocals, particularly with her orgasmic emoting during ''My Only Love.'' Violinist Wilkins contributed on percussion, joining Julia Thornton. There were four sexy female dancers employed judiciously, onstage during the smoldering ''Both Ends Burning'' and back for the encores of ''Do the Strand'' and ''For Your Pleasure,'' where they were dressed as Las Vegas showgirls.

The latter song, the finale, was perfect - spooky yet comforting. ''In the morning, the things that you worried about last night will seem lighter,'' sang Ferry. ''You watch me walk away.'' Then he did, followed by Mackay and Manzanera. One by one, to rapturous applause, the remaining band members left the stage, until finally only Good was left, his spare, eerie synth parts spiraling into the summer night.

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