Decades later, Bryan Ferry still takes chances and succeeds, for the most part
Berklee Performance Center Boston, Nov. 12, 2002
By Jeffrey B. Remz
BOSTON - Bryan Ferry has carved out a successful solo career apart from from Roxy Music, the band, of course, of which he was/is lead singer and got him his start.
The dapper, suave 56-year-old Brit is touring behind "Frantic," a disc containing a co-write with Brian Eno, who also guests on one song, four collaborations with Eurythmic Dave Stewart and Radiohead Guitarist Jonny Greenwood helping out.
Ferry can be a bit of an acquired taste for some due to his quirky voice and herky-jerky stage movements.
But that should have dissipated with the first half of the show where he started off solo on piano with a moving "Havana Moon. where he was only accompanied by a fiddle player, who proved strong throughout.
He then went mainly for covers, and that wasn't a bad thing at all. He turned in "Don't Think Twice, It's Alll Right" from "Frantic" courtesy of Bob Dylan, "Fallin in Love Again" from his previous disc on which he was a '30's and '40s songs chanteuse. Live, a harp player came out and added a beautiful, pretty touch.
Ferry kept the proceedings soft with "Will You Still Ove Me Tomorrow?" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." In every case, Ferry was on target.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before Ferry cranked it up and did so with "Thrill of It All."
The intensity increased, but somehow there was a gap between the mesh of vocals and msuic.
It wasn't the band's fault as Roxy drummer Paul Thompson and veteran guitarist Chris Spedding anchored the proceedings. But the sound wasn't as clear as when Ferry kept it simple.
The lull ended with a great version of John Lennon's "A Jealous Guy" before closing with Roxy's "Do the Strand." The two-song encore ended with a triumphant "Let's Stick Together."
This wasn't Bryan Ferry at his best - his show with Roxy Music in the summer of 2001 was far more on target (and that the fact that Ferry was without Roxy may have contributed to a venue about 60 percent full).
And at 90 minutes, including encore, that seems more than a bit chintzy. Especially with no "Avalon" among other hits going unplayed.
But Ferry still shows that he is capable of taking chances with covers, putting his own stamp on them and not turning his back on the gruop that ultimately keeps his career going three decades later.
Newcomer Martina Sorbara of Canada opened with a set that recalled Norah Jones, but a bit less jazzy and more humorous. Sorbara also possesses one strong voice.