Bryan Ferry at De Montfort Hall (1/11)
What is it with the old ‘n’s. Over the last few years I’ve witnessed brilliant sets from the late, great Lou Reed (probably the best I’d ever seen him, and I saw him a lot), Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, the Stones and Neil Young. I’ve also seen Bob Dylan, but the less said about that the better.
Bryan Ferry certainly belongs on that first list. On Friday evening at De Montfort Hall he played a two-hour show that covered all sorts of unexpected bases and breathed new life into his distinguished back catalogue.
He didn’t even appear for the first half dozen numbers, as the Bryan Ferry Orchestra (a band he put together for his recent instrumental “Jazz Age” album) played a selection of classic Roxy tunes in a roaring ‘20s style, beginning with the lynchpin track “Do The Strand”, then “Slave To Love”, “The Bogus Man” (from “For Your Pleasure”) and “Avalon”, the latter taking on an unexpected Latin shuffle.
Ferry joins them for a little light jazz warbling, before halfway into “Reason Or Rhyme” – a hidden gem from his 2010 “Olympia” album – the concert takes a rockier turn as guitars are plugged in, an upright bass is swapped for something slicker and horizontal, and a whirling dervish drummer is unleashed.
The crowd roar their appreciation, and the feeling of relief is palpable. We were all enjoying the acoustic, jazzier fare, but electric is better. “Don’t Stop The Dance” gets segments of the audience up on their feet, and “NYC” keeps them there.
When he winds down the first half of the show with the trio of “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and an epic “Song For Europe”, Ferry and his 13-piece band leave the stage to a standing ovation.
They return after half an hour (I imagine the rockers had a beer or two, while the jazzers consumed tea and hobnobs) with a quick Charleston display, and then it was pretty much hits all the way home – though not necessarily the obvious ones.
“Jealous Guy” is polished and elegant, “Casanova” gets the front rows dancing and filling the gap between seats and stage, and that was where they remained through “Street Life”, “Let’s Stick Together” and a boisterous “Hold On I’m Coming”. The one-track encore of “Editions Of You” provided the perfect end to a cracking night.