[…continued from previous post]
After the delightful non-intermission, the full band came onstage to the strains of “Take A Chance With Me.” Surprisingly, the band didn’t trim off any of its luxuriant sound but the substantial guitar riffs of Manzanera that were the icing on this particular cake, were curiously absent. This night, keyboards were the dominant note in its flavor, strangely enough.
The next song was another “crown jewel. ” Those would now come at a rapid pace in the second set. “Re-Make, Re-Model” vies strongly with “Ladytron” as being the best tracks on the startling debut album and the bold strokes of this number fit more graciously with the somewhat bombastic feel of this particular band. By this time the crowd were all on their feet, which was a blessing, since the parsimonious pews which constituted seating in the Ryman Auditorium [the building was initially built as a tabernacle in 1892] were simply torturous to my 6’3″ frame. I was unable to sit straightforward in my seat, so I welcomed the “SRO” aspect of the show.
Then the dark heart of “For Your Pleasure” was offered. “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” was always a stunner, and here was another early song that the lack of subtlety from this touring band didn’t hurt, but actually enhanced. Phil Manzanera still owns this one though. I could not help but wonder if the set list this evening was in any way shaped by the fact that this was Ferry’s first date ever in the Music City. A glance at the rest of the setlists reveals that Nashville got a few more numbers than some dates, but the inclusion of “Dream Home” was actually common to all US dates on this tour leg… but not the Canadian ones.
Then I got to hear my favorite song from “Roxy Music.” Oh, there are other, better songs, but there’s just something about the queer, yet burningly intense “If There Is Something” that captivates me the most from that album. Any song that can begin as a country hoedown yet reach for patently ludicrous signifiers of devotion as “growing potatoes by the score” as it heads for a fevered summit after a desolate middle eight is pretty unique in the world. Alas, Ferry’s instrument is no longer quite capable of reaching the peaks of intensity that this song benefitted best from, but I appreciated the try in any case. I never thought I’d hear this one in my lifetime.
Then the last eight songs hit like a freight train, enlivened by the inclusion of an “Avalon” staple that, surprisingly, rarely ever got played by Ferry or Roxy Music. That would be “More Than This.” I found it hard to believe that I was hearing it, but Ferry gamely gave it a go, even as his voice simply cannot reach those gossamer high notes on the familiar LP. He was almost doing a sprechtgesang take on the number, which was kind of interesting. Then…Boom! “Avalon.” Vocalist Bobbi Gordon nailed the delicate tones of Yannick Etienne’s original performance admirably well here. Boom! “Love Is The Drug.” Boom! “Virginia Plain.” The crowd were going wild here and Ferry left the stage for all of 15 seconds before the encore hit: a new record for me.
“Let’s Stick Together’s” sassy chug was last heard by these ears on the “As Time Goes By Tour” but this band tonight were perhaps more suited to the greasy R+B than the ostensible jazz band we saw in Las Vegas. “Jealous Guy” still plucked the heartstrings, though Bobbi Gordon’s solo on the coda was perhaps a misstep. The last “crown Jewel” this evening was the show closer par excellence “Do the Strand” though this evening it was deemed the penultimate song with “Both Ends Burning” serving as a fitting finale.
Bryan Ferry | Nashville, TN | Ryman Auditorium | Aug. 2, 2016
- Driving Me Wild
- Slave to Love
- Don’t Stop the Dance
- Beauty Queen
- Oh Yeah
- Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
- Bête Noire
- Stronger Through the Years
- Take a Chance with Me
- In Every Dream Home A Heartache
- If There Is Something
- More Than This
- Love Is the Drug
- Virginia Plain
- Let’s Stick Together
- Jealous Guy
- Do the Strand
- Both Ends Burning
That’s a pretty long setlist, and I think few could find fault with it. Some may express disappointment with the diminished voice that Mr. Ferry brings to the table these days. I can’t go there because it’s his voice. His life. I find the frailty it exudes could conceivably enhance his songs, which are usually pretty long on the bitter melancholy, but a Sinatraesque “Wee Small Hours Of the Morning” show does not seem to be in the cards for Mr. Ferry, and I find that a bit of a shame. Where this show disappointed was in the denial that it secreted by the fact that Ferry was surrounded by a brace of musicians half his age or less, with only long-term stalwarts Fonzi Thornton and Neil Hubbard being of his peer group.
Instead he chose to surround himself with blazing youth and perhaps more energy than these songs benefitted from. The house sound was on the loud side, though not the worst I’ve heard. The staging was perhaps the most bombastic element of all with the lights being overstimulating in the way that only computer-controlled varilites can be. Ferry will be 72 next month. I think that it would have been much more special if he had behaved with that truth on the table. I guess a part of me is still disappointed that Ferry has not moved to the next level yet. Unfortunately, for him, I’d say that Paul Buchanan had got there first a good 30 years ago. When I first heard The Blue Nile I was confident that I’d heard the band that managed to leapfrog Roxy Music and I still hold to that thought today.
Ferry has the tunes. He has the artistic point of view, but I’d like to see him enhance his songs with more truth and yes, mortality. Imagine a setlist by this man where he did not have a ten piece band of kids onstage rocking out to a flashy light show but a handful of carefully chosen veterans who could invest these songs with all of the devastating feeling that we know he’s capable of. My favorite Ferry show is still the “As Time Goes By” tour that I saw in 1999 that was largely an arm’s length away from being a rock show and all the better for it. His “Avonmore” album closed with a delicate, almost painfully vulnerable cover of “Johnny + Mary” and I was certainly hoping to hear that humber this evening but after seeing that show, I know why that did not happen. Had he sung that song it would have been massacred by the his band, who were incapable of the delicacy that all but makes this performance. Ferry sounds like he might blow away at any minute. Give me a deeply lit stage with this man and a handful of musicians capable of exploring such delicacy, and I’ll gladly sign up for another tour of duty with Mr. Ferry. As it stands, this final Ferry concert gave new meaning to the words bittersweet.
– 30 –