Bryan Ferry @ Colton Hall, Bristol - 05/10/2015

by HannahSweetnam
HannahSweetnam
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on 09 October 2015 in Live
Rating 8/10

Over forty years after Bryan Ferry took to the stage with Roxy Music there are still few performers that can lay claim to quite the diversity of discography that Ferry has produced. The true “man of many manifestations”, he has spent the last half century reinventing himself time and time again, building up a varied and distinctive back catalogue of glam art rock to new wave and balladry pop; and on 5th October the crooning rock legend headlined his eclectic electric show at Bristol’s Colston Hall.

First to the stage was the astoundingly talented Judith Owen, performing tracks from her latest album Ebb & Flow. The James Taylor and Carol King inspired singer songwriter spanned the rhythm and blues genre alongside her cellist, drummer and bassist, who she later revealed was the highly respected Leland Sklar. The famed bassist has played across 2,000 albums, for the likes of Phil Collins, Billy Cobham, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Hall & Oates, Jackson Browne, David Bowie, Ray Charles, B.B. King, The Doors and countless others. But name-dropping aside, there was not one artist on the stage that did not warrant their place in the spotlight.

Intertwining light-hearted chitchat into her set, Owen’s manner was spot on for Ferry’s largely grey-haired crowd. Her luxurious vocal acrobatics bore a minor resemblance to a velvety Stevie Nicks and her New Orleans style piano playing was sublime, singing songs of friendship and heartbreak.

Particularly enjoyable numbers were her reworked version of ‘the most un-PC pop song of all time’, Mungo Jerry’s ‘In The Summertime’ and a beautifully honest original called ‘I’ve Never Been to Texas’. After finishing her set with a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’, it was time for the main event.

Bryan Ferry and his 10-piece backing band coolly dominated the stage, kicking off the sublimely orchestrated set with ‘Avonmore’, ‘Driving Me Wild’ and ‘Slave to Love’. Much to the audience’s glee he then launched in to an epic tribute to his Roxy Music days with the iconic ‘Ladytron’.

From then on in, the crowd-pleasing rock sophisticate honoured his grateful audience with an almost 50% Roxy Music set, whilst also revisiting his classic Bob Dylan and John Lenon covers. He did, of course, also take the opportunity to play a number of his solo hits, such as the fantastic ‘One Night Stand’.

Unlike a number of the greats, Ferry was not at all self indulgent in his performance; in fact it was clear that his key intention was to showcase the musical competence of every musician on stage. And showcase it, he did! 

Half way through the mind-blowing concert of bright and psychedelic illuminations and reminiscence Ferry exited the stage, assumedly to refresh his voice, and allowed his talented backing band to steal the limelight. A special mention must go to Jorja Chalmers on Sax and Keys and Lucy Wilkins on Violin, who at times completely stole the show with their absurdly magnificent solos and vibrant attitude to performance. Further mention should go to Ferry’s three backing singers, who superbly highlighted Ferry’s gloriously raspy vocals.

Coming to a close by returning to Roxy, with ‘Virginia Plain’ and ‘Do the Strand’, the star simply couldn’t have put on a more accomplished set. Ferry and his incredible band then returned to the stage for an encore of ‘Let’s Stick Together’ and ‘Jealous Guy’. With a knee-jerk reaction, the crowd were on their feet, clapping their hands and boogying along with the backing band who seemed to be having a wail of a time.

Whether it’s his solo career you love, his day’s with Roxy Music or even his reworking’s of other musician’s hits; one thing is for sure - whatever IT is, he’s still got it.

 

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