New York: Another Fine Edition of You - Mon 23rd Jul

New York: Another Fine Edition of You
23 July 2001

Review by Dennis Lim of The Village Voice

Beaming down at the Theater at Madison Square Garden last week, next door to the venue they first played opening for Jethro Tull in 1972, the reunited Roxy Music began with the cardiac resuscitation of "Re-make/Re-model" (first song, first album, but no nostalgia, "next time is the best we all know") and ended with the epic fade-away-never of "For Your Pleasure" (notes on the art of self-invention, "part false, part true"). In between, a democratic spirit prevailed: All styles served here, from dadaist intergalactic glam to creamy lovers rock. The mists of Avalon rolled in midway like so much dry ice, but a generous portion of the set emanated from deep within the velvet goldmine.

The jet-set troubadours hadn't played together in 18 years, but you wouldn't have guessed it from the onstage chemistry. Phil Manzanera's guitar lines—fussy one minute, flammable the next—and Andy MacKay's lithe reed accents were shored up by the robust tremors of long-missed original drummer Paul Thompson. Bryan Ferry, meanwhile, casually enacted the theory that the best Roxy songs are nothing less than dense clusters of coups de théâtre. His vibrato was in fine tingly form, he addressed the crowd mostly by enunciating song titles ("Oh yeah-eah," "Dance away-hey-hey"), and he donned a white dinner jacket (between black sharkskin and silver lamé, sorry no tiger prints) for a cabaret interlude that included "A Song for Europe" and "In Every Dream Home a Heartache."

The come-hither sizzle of "Both Ends Burning" (with dancing-girl gyrations) got the audience to their feet, and they swooned right through to surprise set-closer "Editions of You," the flailing anthem to love and regret in the age of mechanical reproduction, and no-brainer encores "Love Is the Drug" and "Do the Strand." The highlight of the evening, "Mother of Pearl," more than ever seemed to encapsulate the Roxy mythology. A Dionysian supernova unravels into a long comedown of louche, time-wasting rumination (bliss just out of reach, indefinitely delayed), as Ferry looks back on a trail of wrecked beauty, the complications of hindsight no longer an illusion. Ever the rueful roué, still so sheer and so chic, he always knew his strange ideas would mature with age.

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