Bryan in NewcastleRoxy Music Tour 2001

Tuesday, 12th June 2001

The Mail on Sunday
Newcastle Evening Chronicle

Reunited they stand... still the best there was
Telewest Arena

Roxy Music were Britain's best band of the Seventies and could not possibly have come from America.

When asked why Roxy had re-formed after 18 years, Bryan Ferry said it was because they hadn't attracted any tribute bands. They are, literally, inimitable. Few people can sing like Ferry, whose stylised yodel has slowly grown into a warm croon; few can play guitar with the Latin virtuosity of Phil Manzanera, and fewer still can play the oboe at rock 'n' roll speed like Andy Mackay.

Nor are many musicians this tall. All three men are around 6ft 2in and they have reached their 50s without a paunch between them. It makes life easier for the wardrobe mistress, who puts Mackay in a deep-purple suit and Manzanera in a cream frock coat, while the hired hands have to be content with black.

Ferry, back in the city where he grew up and went to art school, ambles on stage in a reptilian silver jacket and black leathery silk trousers, playing on his reputation as a lounge lizard. In a neat twist, his clothes are designed by Tom Ford of Gucci, whose signature style for men dark suit, white shirt, ease with a hint of sleaze - was practically invented by Ferry. Later, he slips into the old white tuxedo, and it gets a cheer of its own.

Ferry's hair is immaculately windswept, as if it had been given a blow-dry by three hairdressers at once; knowing him, this is perfectly possible. But, as usual, the idea that he is only interested in looking cool evaporates when you see the way he moves. One of Britain's bestdressed men is also one of its leading exponents of air guitar.

The Stage is decked out like an old cinema of the kind the band named themselves after - all ruched curtains and bordello-red lighting. In all the years Roxy were away, no band came along with the same ability to make an arena feel like a theatre.

They have no new songs to play, and, judging by a recent interview on TOTP 2, not much lingering rapport. But they retain an obvious love for the songs, and the songs have not lost their capacity to surprise.

The set-list leans towards the first two albums, when Brian Eno was still on board and every number fizzed with wit, invention and nervous energy.

The Tyneside crowdThe show opens with Re-Make/Re-Model - neither remade nor remodelled, just restored, like an oil painting, with the guest keyboard player, Colin Good, using the same old Synths that Eno played 30 years ago. Several of the otherhighlights come from the early days: A Song For Europe, a ballad so romantic it now feels a hundred years old; Editions Of You, pumping with flamboyant adrenaline; Do The Strand, fast, foppish and funny; Both Ends Burning, wiggling and strutting like the dancing girls who come on every so often.

The range is as impressive as the quality and you see how Roxy have managed to influence bands as diverse as Pulp and Radiohead.

Avalon falls strangely flat and Dance Away is missing, but Tara, a late instrumental featuring Mackay on sax, is gorgeous, and Oh Yeah is an elegant rebuke to those who feel that Roxy went downhill after 1975. They just became something else - less arty, less witty, but more melodic, more rhythmic, more musical.

When old songs are this interesting, nostalgia is only a fraction of their appeal. The experience is more like rereading a good book.

TIM de LISLE, The Mail on Sunday

Bryan at NewcastleFERRY BACK ON THE TYNE

HOUSANDS of fans packed into the Newcastle Arena to give Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry a homecoming to remember. Both the band and their adoring crowd may have been a little bit older and heavier than the last concert in 1981 but the result was just the same.

More than 10,000 fans filled the Arena as Ferry, along with Jarrow-born drummer Paul Thompson helped make it a night to remember.

At 55, lead singer Ferry still cuts a suave figure. The grey may be seeping through the dark locks and the facial lines grow more evident but he still has a stage swagger and those razor edge vocals hit the notes, right and otherwise.

Ruth Tinsley, 26, of Hexham, said the band were everything she had expected. She said: "This is the first time I have seen them and they were incredible. I think the crowd were really excited to see Bryan Ferry back in the North East and he gave a special performance. I just hope they keep on touring. It would be a tragedy if this was the last time we Saw them up here."

James Jones, 47, of Heaton, said: "I have seen them once before but this was something else. Roxy Music was never a one man band. Andy McKay's sax playing was as perfect as ever, Phil Manzenera's lead guitar riffs blasted through the night air and Paul Thompson's drumming kept the rhythm tight. As John Peel once said Roxy Music were "the only original act" to come out of the glam plagued 1970s".

From Virginia Plain to Avalon the fans responded to Ferry's voice. Last night's gig on the Roxy world tour was particularly poignant for Washington-born Ferry, a former Chronicle delivery boy, and Jarrow lad Thompson.

Rumours persist that the tour, which moves to America in July before further dates in Europe, could be worth millions to the group. But for Ferry and Thompson the stop-off in Newcastle signalled a sealing of their partnership which split after musical differences in 1980. But the 2001 audience were with it from the opening number and when the band finally bid farewell at the end of the third encore, For Your Pleasure, the loudest cheer rang out for Thompson.

It was all about performance. And Roxy Music provided a perfect one last night at Newcastle's Telewest Arena. Time stood still in the blink of an eye as the opening strains of Remake Remodel took the hypnotised audience on a 30-year musical odyssey. The early experimental vibes of Ladytron, Editions of You and Out of the Blue provided the spine of an evening of sheer pleasure. And the stage show of the 10-piece Roxy band kept the eyes as well as the ears focussed.Ferry & Spedding

The beret capped streetwalkers of Street Life re-emerged later as peroxide blonde cheer leaders in Both Ends Burning and later as femme fatales for Mother of Pearl and tiller girls for the wonderful Love is the Drug. Manzonera's frock coat flowed like a flag against McKay's smart zoot suit, while Ferry's silver, black and white tuxedos stole top honours in the stage clothes show.

And the black and white close up screen movie provided the perfect backdrop. But it was the music which really scored. A Song for Europe was as beautiful and poignant as when Ferry first sang it to an entranced Manchester audience in 1973 and the magnum opus If There is Something thrilled the packed arena. And the Singles Virginia Plain, Jealous Guy and Avalon proved the band can still pop it with the best. As one concert T shirt said: "I knew I would see you again".

NIC OUTTERSIDE, Newcastle Evening Chronicle
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