Bryan Ferry @ Symphony Hall, 29th April 2018

As striking white lights fly around the stage, the nine piece band enter and they start with the atmospheric introduction to The Main Thing as Bryan Ferry casually strolls on to vast applause. Ferry’s aloof sophistication emanates around the venue enhanced by his smooth, rich vocals which are as charming as ever and don’t falter for the entirety of the set.  Transitioning into Don’t Stop The Dance is a slick operation and illustrates the competency of the band Ferry has chosen to complement him on this tour including long time guitarist Chris Spedding and phenomenal saxophonist, Jorja Chalmers.

Unsurprisingly, there isn’t a fancy backdrop just a patterned curtain that is used to capture the mood altering lighting as the music is powerful enough, noticeably Oh Yeah (On The Radio) is the track that fully grips the already attentive audience with its arpeggio keyboard line resounding through the chorus and Marina Moore’s stabbing violin part to contrast in the verse.

At times during the set, Ferry takes to his own keyboard to add a further layer to the depth of the electronics flying around the auditorium and this is evident in the atmospheric Zamba, where the interplay between the sombre keyboards and Spanish guitar is tremendously moving because of its subtly. The exquisite use of instrumentation continues into the next song, Stronger Through The Years, with Spedding’s fantastic guitar solo sensitively played underneath Ferry’s bewitching vocal line that is amalgamated into the sound rather than being an obvious separate entity, demonstrating the true art sensibilities of Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music.

The set returns to Ferry’s solo work with Slave To Love played slightly faster than the original but losing nothing in the increased pace just continuing to ooze sophistication and seduction as Bryan, suave as ever, holds his microphone stand knowing he has an overwhelming sexual presence. Remake/Remodel has the audience up and moving as the steps on the stage light up, the mirrorball shimmers and the driving bass line reverberates; the energy levels in the hall have been purposefully ramped up.

After commenting about the look of Symphony Hall, Ferry starts a run of his most commercially successful tracks starting with If There Is Something. The beautifully haunting More Than This segues sublimely into Avalon, with its simple yet tender chorus enhanced by the outrageously high backing vocals. This combination of songs would have been worth the ticket price alone solely for the emotional impact they had on me, which I wasn’t prepared for.

The tempo takes a turn with the ludicrously dark yet funky Love Is The Drug, a true genius piece of songwriting that’s greatness is not lost in such a fine establishment. Virginia Plain brings the main part of the set to a close and sees Ferry move temporarily in front of the monitors to engage with the ever growing crowd at the front whilst demonstrating the contemporary sound of a song that is over 45 years old.

Bryan Ferry barely exits the stage before he returns for the encore that begins with Let’s Stick Together and includes the harmonica and evidently a singer who appears to be genuinely enjoying himself and the positive vibe that the audience are exuding. The pace drops again temporarily with the cover version of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy, a song that Ferry made his own shortly after Lennon’s death with that inimitable whistling solo that is flawless live. Pretending to exit again, Bryan Ferry encourages the crowd to cheer for more so that he can finish with Editions Of You that powers through with grit and filth demonstrating the versatility of the performer and song writer.

There is a reason why certain people last so long in the music industry and that is pure talent and, tonight, Bryan Ferry delivered a masterclass illustrating why he still has the capacity to attract and excite the fans. The man is a legend.

Reviewer: Toni Woodward

Photographer: Stephanie Colledge 

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