[…continued from previous post]
The pattern had been set for the evening with minutes being shaved off of more luxuriant numbers that sometimes seemed cut by as much as 40% in length. True, it’s not a dreaded medley; the scourge of right thinking concertgoers everywhere, but it is the next worst thing. Following the pair of new songs, right up front, the rest of the evening saw Ferry cherry-picking form his vast Roxy Music and solo repertoire. A pair of singles from “Boys + Girls” were up next.
“Slave To Love” was an early crowd-pleaser; well placed in the running order. “Don’t Stop The Dance” was my third favorite single form that album. “Windswept” was always my favorite, but not tonight. I’ll have to cherish my memories of the “Mamouna” tour. The choice of Jacob Quistgaard, probably the least of the nine guitarists wedged into “Avonmore” as his lead guitarist for this tour [as well as his last one] was beginning to irritate me. With his youth came perhaps a soupçon more of an aggressive stance than I wanted to hear from this music. The house sound was not helping matters either. While not a full-fledged bass-fracking® [©2013 chasinvictoria] nightmare, it was still on the wrong side of a line in the sand for my ears. The cherry on top of this pie of regret was the over the top lighting, which favored bold excess over subtle elegance.
Next, the setlist proffered a surprising choice when “Beauty Queen” from “For Your Pleasure” made a startling appearance. Can’t say I ever had this pleasure before! It almost seems churlish of me to point out that the return to the chorus/finale after the rocking middle eight never happened this time since the tune ended on an instrumental note, but I will. Still, a deep cut from “For Your Pleasure” is just the sort of thing that Ferry will toss to the faithful where others would hedge their bets. Whatever his faults this evening, as ever, his set lists remain things of wonder populated by a most enviable catalog.
When oboist Jorga Chalmers began the distinctive intro to “Ladytron,” it signified the first of the many “crown jewels” that will always pepper a Ferry set. A crucial debut album deep cut that was inexplicably never a single, yet still holds considerable sway in the Ferry canon, the performance here tonight was somewhat hampered by the guitar posturings of Mr. Quistgaard. My wife put it eloquently by saying that he looked like he had wandered in from another band. His presence here brought immediately to mind another “problematic” Ferry guitar choice; Jeff Thall, who played even less subtle, almost metal leads, on the Bete Noire tour; immortalized on the JPN “New Town” laserdisc I own.
“Oh Yeah” from “Flesh + Blood was played next and during the last two Ferry [actually Roxy Music] shows I caught in 2001, this also figured in the set list. A pleasant song, it’s not my go-to from that album by a long shot, but I see that “Same Old Scene” had gotten play only on the 1980 and 2011 Roxy Music tours, so it was not to be that evening. I can’t really imagine the exquisite splendor of that song existing in the real world anyway. It’s cascading edifices of reflecting and refracting echoplexed guitars and synths are not the sort of thing I can imagine out in the wild.
Next came a cover that arrived like a breath of fresh air. Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” was most appealing with just Ferry and music director Paul Beard on piano. The intimacy of the presentation was more of what I had been hoping for with the elder Ferry trodding the boards on tour at age 70. The ten piece band with two keyboardists and guitarists fighting for territory were a bit overblown to my ears and the lighting was mostly providing cover for Ferry, who seemed to be floating through this ungrounded. This was followed by a demure “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” from the dawn of Ferry’s solo career.
The album pairing methodology next served up a pair from “Bête Noire” the deepcut title track, which benefitted from the violin of whoever had replaced Lucy Wilkins that night. I missed her name at the end of the show, but it wasn’t the familiar face from the 2001 Roxy Tour. This was followed by “Zamba” and both cuts were a pleasure, but nothing next to what came next. I was mildly shocked when “Stronger Through The Years” from “Manifesto” followed. This was nothing I would have ever expected! The dark jazz of that tune I though had been forgotten by all but me, but I’ll give Ferry credit for picking great material. Ms. Chalmers syncopated sax runs on the coda were appropriately wounded and crepuscular if a minute or two briefer than the LP version.
Then all assorted save for Chalmers left the stage as she began playing the instrumental “Tara” from “Avalon.” The song should have ended where I expected it, but it didn’t. Then Beard joined her onstage to solo on piano and take the melody over from her. Then it was Mr. Quistgaard’s turn to play some delicate acoustic guitar as this melodic fragment of a song from “Avalon” was now expanded into a five minute opus that saw Ms. Chalmers returning to the theme to act as a coda for the song. For once, there was some expansion instead of contraction of the music’s running time, though it cannily provided a breather of the band, who rejoined the trio onstage at “Tara’s” end. I have to admit that this was much nicer than an obtrusive, momentum-killing 15-20 minute intermission.
Next: …More than this?