could have been a travesty: an acclaimed British
rock band re-forms after almost 20 years for a brief world tour that
is essentially a promotional tool for a new Best Of collection. Money
is involved, of course - as Bryan Ferry told The Irish Times, the
promoters were 'very persuasive' - but Roxy Music played anything
but safe on Saturday.
You could sense Roxy fans of the svelte Avalon era shift uncomfortably
in their seats for the first 20 to 30 minutes as Ferry - surrounded
by original members Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay, long-time drummer
Paul Thompson and session guitarist extraordinaire Chris Spedding
- dived into material familiar only to diehard Roxy fans.
As their previous life flashed behind them in fuzzy archive images,
Roxy Music existed again: wonderful art rock and pop enmeshed in
a screen of caterwauling guitars, squawking wind instruments and
washes of electronica. Not even Ferry's unusual lack of charisma
could spoil the effect. Next came the hits, revived from the abyss
of memory and sounding quite good.
They ended not with something obvious such as Dance Away or Angel
Eyes, but with the title track of their second album, For Your Pleasure.
As the song faded, Ferry and company walked off stage one by one,
leaving a memory of not so much a cynical exercise as a nothing-to-lose
job undertaken with care, consideration and respect. Roxy Music:
surprising us again.
TONY CLAYTON-LEA, Irish Times
ANY standards, this was an auspicious occasion at
the Point in Dublin: the first Roxy Music gig in 18 years. Given the
insatiable demand for nostalgic reunion tours, it was almost inevitable
that Bryan Ferry would get around to reconvening one of the most suave,
distinctive and original bands of the 1970s.
Roxy Music's original incarnation was as a retro/futurist
art-rock experiment gone horribly right. Ferry was the crooning
vampire from outer space; Brian Eno was a strange hybrid of techno-nerd
and glamorama queen. Add Andy Mackay's seditious sax and Phil Manzanera's
virtuouso guitar to the mix and you had a band defiantly wild at
heart and weird on top.
Of course, Eno refused to have anything to do with this tour, which
stops off for three nights at Wembley Arena later this week, believing
the venture to be artistically, if not financially, barikrupt. The
rest had no such quibbles. Roxy Music 2001 is a ten-piece band,
with percussionists, violinists and extra guitarist Chris Spedding.
Of the core members, drummer Paul Thompson is unrecognisable from
the skinny, long-haired kid of yore - but can still brew up a storm.
Mackay dons a blue suit eerily reminiscent of Showaddywaddy. Manzanera
is aglow in a whitewashed suit and matching shoes straight out of
Miami Vice: while Ferry, who has long since settled into his role
as the elder statesman of tuxed-up lounge lizards, flits between
trademark cream dinner jacket, designer black leather and a shiny
The opening salvo is Re-makelRe-model from the legendary debut
album. It comes across as the mission statement of a band who never
stood still, as the montage of old footage displayed on the video
screen testifies. The first part of the show revisits the startling
eccentricity of those early albums, with Street Life and If There
is Something particularly compelling. The contrived melodrama of
A Song for Europe was another highlight, with Ferry's intense, arch
vocals giving way to an uplifting union of soaring sax and organ.
However, the rather muted response to such wizardry suggested that
most of the audience were here for the airbrushed late-period Roxy.
More Than This, for instance, propelled the crowd from their seats
up to the front barrier and only then did the hand-waving begin
in earnest. Jealous Guy was notable for Manzanera's soulful guitar
solo and Ferry's dogged whistling. Virginia Plain ended the show,
bloodied but unbowed by its association with a car advertisement.
For the encore, Love is the Drug, and Do the Strand were greeted
rapturously, although the finale, For Your Pleasure, was comparatively
NICK KELLY, The Times