Roxy Music, ExCel Centre, London <!-- none onestar twostar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

After a shaky start and some mid-set tedium, Roxy Music proved they might yet have something to offer today's music scene.

The predominance of middle-aged couples at the band's one UK gig of the year - in Docklands - suggested a generation reliving their youth, when they played Roxy's mid-period yuppie seduction soundtracks in less practical cars than those they own today.

This audience were not disappointed by the group's greatest hits set, though there were enough surprises for fans of their art-rock early days. Indeed, this period has been brought to mind by news that the former keyboardist Brian Eno worked with the band, who reformed in 2001, on recent recording sessions, their first collaboration since the early Seventies. Eno originally denied he was back on the scene and has declined to appear live, So tonight it is Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera and sax and oboe player Andy Mackay who take to the stage, as drummer Paul Thompson has cried off with illness.

Ferry himself only croaks his way through their opening numbers, though he soon displays his legendary poise, and with age his louche croon has become more plaintive than ever on "Jealous Guy". His bandmates, meanwhile, show that Roxy's elegance extends beyond the sartorial, with a flow of rich yet understated arrangements. Manzanera plays with precision and rarely has an oboe sounded as haunting as Mackay's on "Ladytron".

There are, unfortunately, too many solos. The daft horror story "The Bogus Man" fades away too slowly in a morass of noodling. It is impossible to work out why there are two extra guitarists on stage - until "My Only Love" strikes up with three unnecessary solos. Thankfully, such extraneous instrumentation is generally reserved for the middle third of the set.

Roxy rally with a forceful finale that returns them to their superb second album, For Your Pleasure. "Editions of You" has enough intensity to suggest they the band predated post-punk's dance fixation by years; then a previously reticent Ferry finally puts on his campest persona for an exuberant run through of "Do The Strand".

With no new material on offer tonight, the joy displayed by the band during such moments is promising, compared with the more disinterested delivery of numbers dating from their smooth Eighties period, suggesting that Roxy Music could be loosening their ties on the album promised for next year, their first since 1982. If so, it could prove a pleasure for a whole new generation.

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