Edinburgh - The Herald - Mon 5th Sep

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Bryan Ferry - Edinburgh Castle 3rd September 2011

Reviewed by Neil Cooper for Herald Scotland

The pre-show soul soundtrack may be telling of former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry’s roots, but the wash of purple lighting and giant flashing lightbulb on the big-screen backdrop as Ferry’s black-suited seven-piece band and silver-frocked vocal quartet arrive onstage appears infinitely more airbrushed.

As does too the opening take on Screaming Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You, which segues into ultimate 1980s softcore soundtrack, Slave To Love.

As the accompanying film montages show off a series of soft-focus, neon-lit cityscapes populated by mysteriously aloof women, the two flesh and blood young ladies bumping and grinding in pink-tasselled leotards beneath only add to the spectacle.

From such a tastefully textured opening, Ferry confounds expectations by launching into If There Is Something, from Roxy Music’s 1972 debut album. With sax player Jorja Chalmers moving centre-stage, the sheer drama of the extended riffing is thrilling.

As is Oh Yeah!, the sentimental force of which is noticeable among ladies and gents of a certain age who raced to the front before Ferry uttered a note. In contrast, the three guitar frontline of Chris Spedding, Neil Hubbard and Ollie Thompson come into their own on Neil Young’s Like A Hurricane, reconstructing the song without losing its abrasive edge.

The second half again switches time periods and tempos, finishing with a magnificent trilogy of Love Is The Drug, Editions Of You and Let’s Stick Together. Here Ferry cuts loose, throwing a shape here, playing a harmonica solo or giving a regal wave there.

If Jealous Guy is inevitable, the rip-roaring finale of Hold On, I’m Comin’ brings things full circle at the point where soul and art-rock finally jump into bed.

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