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Review Wed Oct 12 2011

Review: Bryan Ferry @ Civic Opera House, 10/11

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(all photos by Rory O'Connor)

After a concert, chatter is usually in the neighborhood of "That was really good" as the euphoria settles. After Bryan Ferry's show at the Civic Opera House, the first three people I overheard said some variation of "The sound here is terrible." Muddy sound and key instruments buried in the mix plagued 100 minutes of Ferry and his six-piece band rolling through songs from all eras of his career. For 40 years, he's had a hand in glam-rock, pop and new wave. He's also been a significant influence on many bands who've created an aesthetic brand. (And, my goodness, does he ooze style.) But what looked like a great show last night didn't always sound the part.

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Ferry and his 4 backing vocalists came off unclear at times and Jorja Chalmers' saxophone began the night drowned out, especially during "If There Is Something", which Ferry introduced by saying it would "test some of [the audience]." Following that was his version of Bob Dylan's oft-covered "Make You Feel My Love." In his solo career (and even occasionally with Roxy Music), one of Ferry's strengths has been arranging covers and owning them to a point where a listener thinks, "So this really wasn't written specifically for him?" But he seemed flat for much of the relatively tame first act, coasting through tunes that he's had much better command of in the past. However, that first act ended on encouraging notes with Roxy Music's standout "Oh Yeah" (backed by images of a road trip from inside a Mercedes Benz, of course) and an epic take on Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" that, while without Young's trademark guitar sound all over it, featured dynamic solos from all-star session guitarist Chris Spedding. (Ferry's other guitarist, Oliver Thompson, didn't return for the second act. A very capable Spedding had no trouble picking up the slack.)

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An intermission ruined any chance of Ferry capitalizing on the momentum of the first act's finale, but slowly he found his groove and became an engaging performer in the second half during a string of Roxy Music hits ("Avalon", "My Only Love", "Love is the Drug" and a mighty "Editions of You") highlighting his crooning style. For the first time all night, he motioned to amp up a polite audience and the band fed off of his energy. A rousing "Let's Stick Together" closed out the second act on a high note and the audience finally jumped to their feet in mass.

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For the encore, Ferry's domination of a cover was never exhibited better than on a terrific version of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" that kept the original's emotional power with an intense level of insecurity. (It is a little difficult to believe that Bryan Ferry has trouble with women, though. He's 66 and ladies sitting near me were practically swooning.) Sam & Dave's classic "Hold On, I'm Comin'" was the last song of the night and Ferry's arrangement of it confounded me with the removal of its horn hook, but even still he managed to put his stamp on it. As the audience filed out, among the chatter about the subpar sound, one gentleman remarked, "But you didn't come here for the soundsystem. You came here for Bryan Ferry." Indeed, we did, sir. And he did not disappoint.

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dave / October 17, 2011 2:44 PM

while BF is my favorite, a very dissappointing set-list. Do we really need love is the drug,avalon, etc. only 3 songs from new album...not much of an effort after 10 years since last tour.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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