Bryan Ferry, gig review: 'a perfect balance of nostalgia and reinvention'
Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Monday 02 December 2013
As the audience stop whistling and instead carry the chorus of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", you realise not even a sound failure can derail this exemplary celebration of a 40-year career.
Rather than a straightforward bash through the hits, Bryan Ferry takes as his starting point last year's The Jazz Age, the Bryan Ferry Orchestra's instrumental album of reinterpretations of Roxy Music and solo material in a roaring twenties manner. The 10-piece, black-tied outfit open each of the evening's two sets in aid of the Philippines Typhoon appeal, charged with some of Ferry's most recognisable material.
A Charleston-ready "Do The Strand" and precise "Avalon" show attention to detail and affection, before Ferry himself joins the orchestra, at first in a floral smoking jacket, followed gradually by his own band. Among the unexpected diversions is "Reason Or Rhyme" from 2010's smooth Olympia, a defiant call for continuing hedonism in both jazz and soft-rock guises.
Ferry's grazed vocal struggles on longer notes, but suits well another Bob Dylan cover, an unadorned "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright". He rallies for a super-stylish office party finale (everything from "Let's Stick Together" to a charged "Editions Of You"), a perfect balance of nostalgia and reinvention.
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