Concord: The thrill of it all. - Sun 5th Aug

Concord: The thrill of it all.
05 August 2001

This review is from Tony Palmer.

This was the show I never thought I'd see. Then once I had tickets, I
never thought it could live up to my expectations. Boy, was I ever
wrong. Concord was the next to last city on the North American tour,
during an honest-to-God planetary alignment (which may have accounted
for us mistakenly getting ushered into the VIP parking lot, heh heh),
and the night was perfect weather-wise. I had jumped on the tickets as
soon as they went on sale, which resulted in seats dead center in the
second tier. Alas, the more expensive seats were too rich for my blood,having to somehow continue eating and paying rent until the show. But I was glad to be farther back and in the center rather than closer and to the side, because the sound throughout the show was absolutely spectacular. The best I have ever heard at the venue formally known as the Concord Pavilion. My friend that went with me to the show asked me today asked if I had recovered from Roxy yet. Well no, I haven't... three weeks later this show is still burned into my brain. This is what I saw and heard from section 205, row GG, seat 111:

Set List:

Re-make / Re-model - the song I somehow knew would be the opener. Loose,funky... great space for everyone, band and audience, to check out the scene, and soundcheck the band as they trade fours at the end. And most importantly, it rocked. Punk glam. Roxy was definitely here as the real deal.

Street Life - great one-two punch. "Cause lovin' you, is all I can
dOOOOOOO..." The note was there. It had to be. And it all sounds too
good to be true... you can feel the crowd trying to keep up 'cause this is much better than anyone thought it would be. Or could be. And then...

Ladytron - just an incredible choice of song, during which Andy Mackay
reveals himself as "the secret weapon". At this point I realize the
magnitude of the man, that he is one of the last, and greatest, of the
prog woodwind players (out of a line that included Chris Wood of
Traffic, Ian Macdonald of King Crimson) and probably one of the most
underrated. The opening phrase on soprano sax (or is it oboe?), brings
an astonished hush to the crowd. "You got me girl on the run round..."
This really can't be happening live like it has so many times before on my stereo, can it? Then comes the guitar solo. My man - tasteful,
restrained, cerebral Phil Manzanera - lays waste to all those previous
adjectives and shreds himself literally out of his guitar strap. The
crowd is floored. I turned to my friend and said, "We can leave now."

While My Heart is Still Beating - Perfect change of pace, an island of
familiarity for those completely unaware that Avalon wasn't Roxy's first album. Slow, seductive... yes even tasteful and restrained, but primal. And this is where I felt Bryan Ferry really opened to the audience for the first time, reminding us all this music is about emotion.

Out of the Blue - Another one I couldn't imagine not hearing if I ever
got to see Roxy, and hear (sic) it is... The live phasing is a rush...
and its almost too cool. "If you were me, would you walk out in style?" pouts Bryan, then he leaves the stage to the awesome jam. The female violin/ keyboard player, Lucy Wilkins, brings the crowd to it's feet with a violin solo that seems to climb to the stratosphere -a note for note rendition of the original Eddie Jobson solo on the Country Life album. Pretty damn good.

A Song for Europe - stately, magnificent melancholia. The audience is
transported back to the Old World, and you don't have to know French to feel the depth of world-weary angst and pride. This song must just be just flooring European audiences, 'cause it sure floored the one in
Concord, Ca.

My Only Love - Bryan takes the keyboard to sing one of the most
sentimental melodies ever written... "There's a river flowing by a
willow tree, when you need to know remember me..." Andy Mackay takes the first short solo between the 2nd and 3rd verse. This is significant because on previous live versions I've heard, Andy and Phil trade off on the main solo at the end. But after the last chorus and as the band drops it's volume, *Bryan* takes a long, slow, heartbroken solo on electric piano. Yes, Bryan. And yes, that was the sound of a pin dropping backstage... in the dressing room. Phil takes the outro solo, then Mackay places his commanding sax line over it all, building on the outro riff. This crowd is gone.

In Every Dreamhome A Heartache - the slow build creeps the entire crowd out, to the point where my friend had to go take a walk. That was ok, because the Phil heads knew what was coming, and when the solo broke, we caught every well-placed note. Phil "f***ing" MANZANERA went OFF! And it was good.

Oh Yeah - One of the best songs you could ever hear, "...playing for
you, on the radio... oh o-o-o-o" Sheer audio romance at first sight.
Impeccably performed. I think it was at this point that I realized the
whole show *sounded* really damn impressive. Every instrument could be
heard clearly and in perfect relation to each other. Maybe a *tad* more bass would have been nice, but that probably would have been fine too if I had been standing.

Both Ends Burning - Serious chair dancing, and by now I'm beginning to
think they're just playing all my favorite songs tonight. Or maybe it
doesn't matter what they play tonight... they're all so on and present, not going just going through the motions. Lots of energy... and oh yeah, cheerleaders (!)...

Tara - Andy Mackay and Lucy Wilkins on synth extended this breathtaking, beautifully sad, ethereal melody, as Mackay continued to cut through the professionalism with a sincerely heartwrenching emotion to his playing. Prefect segue to...

Mother Of Pearl - Funky prog-glam, the party threatens to go out of
bounds, until the song breaks into the infinite Dylanesque verses and
the trance-like refrain, "Oh Mother of Pearl. I wouldn't trade you for
another girl...", and the mesmerizing "underwater" light show that
changed moods with realms of shade and colour ? blue green pinks and
orange, with Bryan stage center in a silver suit and small spot, at all times "the pearl". Beautiful lighting for a beautiful song.

Avalon - "Now the party's over..." The "grab your lover" moment of the
show (or "grab your lover of the moment" moment), featuring a standout
vocal from Yanick Etienne, the lady who did the original soulful vocal
on the album. Apparently no expense was spared.

Dance Away - "your heartache, dance away your pain." Indeed.

Jealous Guy - The emotional center of the show. The amazing arrangement highlights all stately sophistication that is late period Roxy. When Brian Ferry did his whistling solo, you could hear that pin backstage roll an inch on the floor amid the sobs of emotion barely being withheld as people thought about who wrote this song, and realized just how beautiful this version was. Bryan left the stage as the band vamped the song to a stately close. This was an amazing concert experience.

1st encore:

Editions of You - Yes this party is out of bounds, and the cheerleaders are now showgirls! Andy Mackay gets on down like the Big Man, and everybody takes 4, or 8...or 16 or something... Sax synth keyboard guitar electric piano I think it went...

Love is the Drug - "T'ain't no big thing, to wait for the bell to
ring..." funky and tight, Chris Spedding (!) and Phil trading licks;
"Dim the lights, you can guess the rest." Ferry tosses off that line
like we've all been there, and he's right... and we're down with that
moment, and we're sharing the connection as we bop. Too cool for

2nd encore

Do the Strand - 'cause it's not over 'till the fat lady does the

For Your Pleasure - the capper to an impeccable selection of Roxy music,the perfect way to say "So long." and leave no doubt as to why this reunion was happening. After the final verse, Bryan left the stage. Then one by one, each member of the band set down their instrument, took a bow center stage, and walked off as the drums rolled over the waves of reverb that ends the song, until Paul Thompson, the original Roxy drummer, laid down his sticks, walked to the front of the stage, bowed, and walked off as the reverb washed into a fade...

"Normal" life allegedly resumed shortly thereafter...

Previous Article | Next Article