Bryan Ferry review – pop enigma still sets knees trembling

Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
Ferry is as relaxed yet regal as ever, even as a borderline riot erupts when he breaks out the Roxy Music hits

In 1975, not long after his first solo gig, Rolling Stone called Bryan Ferry “a man of many manifestations”. Forty years later, a certain image of the Roxy Music co-founder as a sharply tailored nightcrawler whose husky croon still sets knees trembling has solidified. But there’s still something slightly unknowable about Ferry, even as he approaches 70.

The Jazz Age, his 2012 album of Roxy Music material transposed to a crackly 1920s setting, was an eccentric left turn, not least because he didn’t sing a note on it. There’s no flapper jazz tonight, though Ferry dips into his most recent album, Avonmore. It’s as musically dense and sleek as anything he’s made, even if most of the songs he plays, including Driving Me Wild and Midnight Train, are as lyrically straightforward as their titles.

Backed by a nine-piece band that seem split between younger hipsters and preternaturally talented older hands, the relaxed yet regal Ferry rattles through 26 songs with barely a breather for small talk. Slave to Love brings the swoon, but Smoke Gets in Your Eyes shifts the atmosphere from appreciative genuflection to something hungrier.

Ferry is at his most exposed on Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright where, backed only by piano, it’s possible to reflect on how that voice – which always sounded old before its time – has matured. There’s also a special guest spot for his old collaborator Waddy Wachtel, who adds some distinctive guitar to Can’t Let Go and the countrified come-on He’ll Have to Go.

It is a polished, moody performance, even before a run of Roxy Music hits that transform the last 40 minutes into a borderline riot as fans crowd the stage. Some of the knees might have been creaking as well as trembling, but it emphatically proves there’s life in the old fox yet.

• At Royal Albert Hall, London, 1 June. Box office: 0845 401 5045. Then touring.


Graeme Virtue

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Bryan Ferry – review

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra tears in to Ferry's songbook, remodelling both beloved and unknown tunes and inspiring him to thrill, finds Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

28, Oct, 2013 @6:07 PM

Bryan Ferry: Olympia - review
Slinky adult discopop? Beautiful woman on cover? Songs of heartbreak? Unusual cover version? Dave Simpson finds Bryan Ferry keeping to what he knows best

Dave Simpson

21, Oct, 2010 @10:00 PM

Article image
Bryan Ferry review – lounge lizard still at his best on the dancefloor
The Roxy Music frontman’s crooning numbers can be sophisticated – and also dull. It’s when he gets slinky that his tour’s opening night comes alive

Jude Rogers

10, Apr, 2018 @10:25 AM

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra: The Jazz Age – review
Bryan Ferry's reimagined versions of Roxy Music hits in the style of 1920 Cotton Club jazz work better than you might think, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

22, Nov, 2012 @9:45 PM

Bryan Ferry Orchestra: The Jazz Age – review
Bryan Ferry lovingly reinterprets his back catalogue in 20s big band style and opts not to sing, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

25, Nov, 2012 @12:05 AM

Pop review: Roxy Music

Roxy Music,
SECC, Glasgow

Elisabeth Mahoney

12, Jun, 2001 @11:00 PM

Bryan Ferry – Olympia: exclusive album stream

The latest solo album by the Roxy Music man sees Ferry reuniting with his old band

18, Oct, 2010 @4:03 PM

Article image
Roxy Music – review
Bryan Ferry's ageless cool fails to get the party started, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

26, Jan, 2011 @6:55 PM

Article image
Bryan Ferry recruits Roxy Music for solo album
Singer enlists band-mates on star-studded new LP, featuring members of Pink Floyd, Radiohead and Scissor Sisters

Sean Michaels

13, Jul, 2010 @10:01 AM

Article image
Bryan Ferry: The Jazz Age - exclusive album stream

The Roxy Music man has rerecorded some of his biggest hits in a 20s jazz style with the Bryan Ferry Orchestra

Guardian music

19, Nov, 2012 @11:21 AM