By Yasmine Shemesh
The Orpheum Theatre,
August 13th, 2017
On Sunday night Bryan Ferry performed a career-spanning set that demonstrated how both his music and showmanship remain timeless.
First, though, Welsh singer-songwriter Judith Owen warmed the crowd with husky vocals and witty banter. Sat at the piano with her band—which included prolific sessions musician Leland Sklar on guitar—arranged casually beside her, Owen tossed her head back as she soulfully belted out songs mostly from her latest album, Somebody’s Child. The heart-rending “No More Goodbyes” was a highlight, as was a sultry cover of the 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.”
Fans cheered and immediately stood on their feet—many rushing to the front of the room—when Ferry took the stage in a bombastic rendition of “The Main Thing.” The Roxy Music frontman, looking suave wearing a dark suit jacket, white collared shirt, and a smile, seamlessly transitioned into “Slave to Love,” which filled the room with expansive arrangements and equally breezy vocals.
Ferry showed his versatility with John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” which had him hit falsetto notes; “Simple Twist of Fate” from 2007’s Dylanesque, interpreting the Bob Dylan classic in his sophisti-glam (and with harmonica,); and then, taking to the keyboard for “In Every Dream Home a Heartache.” The latter, on all accounts, was one of the most spectacular moments of the evening—for effect, the theatre’s plush back curtains pulled open to reveal a glowing green screen and Ferry sang the first portion of the song in dramatic whisper without any backing instrumentals until the band blasted in. The song was from 1973’s For Your Pleasure, which was the last Roxy Music album with Brian Eno on the roster and his eccentric touch was intact by way of Ferry’s ominous electric keys and wailing showings from all instrumentalists. It upheld as innovative and progressive as ever.
Ferry’s backing band was excellent throughout, especially saxophonist Jorja Chalmers who brought richness with solos on songs like “Avalon” and “If There is Something.”
Unlike Owen, Ferry didn’t really talk to the audience, save for introductions to his band members. But it didn’t feel he needed to—the music, cinematic light show, his energy (one must praise those dance moves), and charisma already spoke volumes. And, towards the end of the set, Ferry’s natural showmanship shined further as he teased his departure, standing at the stage’s side, shimmying his hips, putting his hand to his ear for more cheers, and blowing kisses while he embarked on a feel-good marathon that included “Love is the Drug,” “Virginia Plain,” and concluded with “Do the Strand.” The bopping audience didn’t want him to go and, judging by Ferry’s beaming grin and reluctance to leave, the feeling was mutual.Bryan Ferry, Orpheum Theatre, The Roxy Music