- Fri 15th Nov

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Review: Bryan Ferry, York Barbican

by Charles Hutchison for The York Press


Mr Ferry was in town for the first time since October 2002, and it was “lovely to be back in York”, he said, stealthily taking his place on the Barbican stage populated for the first 20 minutes by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra (minus Bryan) with an array of vintage brass instruments that looked more like Heath Robinson inventions, under the musical direction of Colin Good.

A Jazz-Age Spanish take on Avalon exemplified the Good work going on here.

Then in a brilliant transformation, on Ferry’s entrance, he switched mid-croon to rock mode, joined by two backing singers, a female drummer and a floppy-haired guitarist, Oliver Thompson, who looked as if he had just stepped out of a school prom band but played like a dream to Ferry’s right as the number on stage swelled to 14.

Lighting was kept low, but even in this vampire gloom and by now heading for elder statesmen territory at 68, Ferry still cut a dandy lounge-lizard figure, enviably slim in his embroidered smoking jacket and pointy shoes, his bow tie hanging loose.

Ferry has never been a great conversationalist on stage, keeping his chatter brief and sincere, but his style and grace, his sang-froid cool, remain his calling card, along with that elegant, elastic voice that suits music both vintage and cutting edge (at the Seventies’ outset of Roxy Music). Two sets spread through the Ferry solo years and both Roxy eras, and it was the covers as much as Oh Yeah or Sign Of The Times that were well received, especially an acoustic Carrickfergus and a hymnal Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.

The green light to bring the equally vintage audience to their feet for the rest of the night was Jealous Guy, the house lights turned up for an extended version with spectacular backing singing. Ferry moved further forward, by now in a silk suit and as he engaged with a crowd gathered at his feet for the Roxy home run of Street Life and Love Is The Drug and a transcendent, punchy take on Sam & Dave’s Hold On, I’m Comin’.

Ferry is the supreme velvet re-interpreter of songs, both his own and the work of others, and in the four times your reviewer has seen him in 13 years, each show has been a reinvention.

No resting on his laurels for Bryan Ferry, no matter how beautiful those laurels may be.

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