between hedges at the top of a park path into a hidden amphitheater
ringed by trees, across wide stone rows to the upper middle orchestra.
Candlelit tables spread out below. Across the wide stage is a cream-colored
scrim with the double eagle insignia beneath the band's name. Around
the proscenium are satin drapes. A mirror ball hangs at center.
As dusk fades, a pair of bats cut tight arcs above the audience's
heads. Lights out and the scrim glows periwinkle blue then deep
violet, then deepest blue. The band name logo switches to the Stranded
tiger stripes as the scrim rises for the opening piano of Remake
Remodel. A projection of hundreds of black & white early band
photos barrages the stage, overlaid with monochromatic live video
closeup of the performers playing on the stage, and intersected
by fanbeams of saturated lights. The visual barrage matches the
band's attack of this song.
Although the band is large, each component stands out clearly,
like an acoustic jazz quartet. The drumming is solid. Vocals are
supple and fresh. At first the sound level is not quite loud enough
for the upper orchestra, so it is necessary to listen closely. At
times the mix seemed to have buffers of space between the instruments,
as though not done by stereo but by multiple stage monitors.
Remake/remodel tromps out with a vengance, For each "solo",
the performer is shown close up in the video projections, so you
get to see things like the antique switchboard synth, and Ferry's
absurd piano abuse. It is such an arresting feeling to hear this
nearly 30 year old tune performed live in the U.S. It has the freshness
of a first impression, and yet a great distance, like dream time.
Street Life percolates with the keyboard, guitar, and sax figures
coiling around each other, again with the volume level not overpowering
the mix. Ferry sings so wickedly "it makes you feel like you're
losing your mind" then Lucy Wilkins' violin distortion squirms
over the brisk high hat, drum and low tenor sax.
At the end of Ladytron, Phil really cuts loose for the only time
during the night, really bending strummed chords into unknown territories,
for a good long time, ending the tune with the guitar held over
his head. More of this would be welcome. Andy has his hands full
penetrating Phil's work with the
While my heart is still beating has one of several beautiful looped
film projections of details from nature passing behind it. Again
a spacious sonic experience but heard more as an atmosphere, with
instruments rising into and falling out of earshot.
Song for Europe opened with a baroque piano windup, then resonated
with very theatrical continental nostalgia. The vocal delivery was
full throated, and the band churning itself into a spiraling finale.
Andy delivers wonderfully rude sax peaks here, as with the other
songs from the early years.
Out of the Blue and Both Ends Burning are reminders why this band
needs Paul Thompson to sound compelling, heavy propulsive bass/tom
drumming. In the first, the audience carries the two-step beat.
In the second, Ferry delivers the weather report to a moist crowd,
"Hell, who can sleep in this heat, this night." Several
very kitschy go go girls work out for this one. Lucy Wilkins delivers
a bravura solo in Blue, another extended instrumental display. In
both these tunes the guitars seemed noticeably undermixed for the
Ferry gives a fully nuanced delivery of each of the songs. No hoarseness,
no interpretive corners cut, no high notes dropped. If he did it
then, he does it now, con brio.
Tara is a beautiful interlude, just Andy, Lucy, and the second
keyboardist. A jet passes high overhead, but the distant noise is
masked by Andy's melody, closely but not identically following the
In another song, (My Only Love?), Chris Spedding and the first
female vocalist duet at length very effectively. The rest of the
show, he held back until the final few songs. His parts seemed the
most spontaneous and bluesy, but restrained compared to the rough
work he used to do with Cale.
In Avalon, diminuitive Yannick Etienne appears for the songbird
part and is warmly greeted. She stays to join the first female vocalist,
and they strengthen the rest of the choruses considerably.
For Your Pleasure is a simply stunning finale, very evocative for
longtime Roxy fans. The lyrics seem to comment on the peculiarity
of america's indifference to most of the incredible reperetoire
of this band. Old fans feel a twinge that they will probably not
hear these songs performed by this band again. More recent fans
must shake their heads in disbelief. "for your pleasure in
our present state, part false part true like anything, we present
ourselves, the words we use tumble all over your shoulder gravel
hard and loose" "you watch me walk away taraa taraa.......
." Each band member leaves one at a time, with the electronic
crickets and feedback echoing into eternity.
Walking back down the park path, kicking the gravel, the memory
of the feedback loops merges into the drone of the cicadas in the
nearby trees. A night to remember.