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Live Gig Video and Interview: Bryan Ferry discusses his new instrumental album ‘The Jazz Age’

 
By on Monday, 5th November 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

When you’ve achieved legendary status like Bryan Ferry, you can do whatever you want. Like an entire album of instrumental music. That’s what the Roxy Music frontman has done with ‘The Jazz Age’, a new album out on the 26th of November, which will feature Great Gatsby era cool into Roxy hits such as ‘Virginia Plain’, ‘Slave to Love’ and ‘Avalon’. Watch an interview with the man, interspersed with clips of the Bryan Ferry Orchestra hard at work, below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VumUtw3IIec[/youtube]

 

Live Review: Bryan Ferry with Phenomenal Handclap Band at Strathmore Hall, Bethesda, MD – 3rd October 2011

 
By on Thursday, 13th October 2011 at 4:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: I would like to thank my fellow Washington area writer Cheryl Demas for being a model of calm and composure during what was a bit of a crazy night.

Years ago on the then-new internet, I started a Duran Duran mailing list / eGroup with a new internet friend. I found out about Roxy Music through Duran Duran, who idolised the band and the sharp dressing of their frontman Bryan Ferry in his immaculate Antony Price designer suits. So adding to my calendar “covering Bryan Ferry” was a bit surreal, and showing up for the gig at the suburban retreat of Strathmore Hall in Bethesda, Maryland, was making me go a bit mad.

Opening for him was the Phenomenal Handclap Band, whom I’ve only seen multiple times but always in a club setting. Them playing a massive stage like Strathmore didn’t suit them: even though they have a relatively big band numbers-wise and have a lot of equipment, they only took up a fraction of the stage. I thought they were a strange fit for an opener for Bryan Ferry, and I was right. The line-up has changed; the have a new female guitarist but have lost one of their two female vocalists. I think the line-up change and the setting affected their sound: it’s just not as warm and full as it once was. They began with ‘You’ll Disappear’ and played their hit from 2009 ’15 to 20′ (prefaced by leader Daniel Collas quipping, “this is a song you may know, or at least your teenager does?”). A couple new songs like ‘Sun and Moon’ went down okay but none were particularly notable. I’ll wait for the new album to be released in 2012.

After the very glam Roxy Music broke up in the early ’80s, Bryan Ferry went on to have a successful solo career. His most recent release ‘Olympia’ (review here) showed him sidling up to a more urban sound admirably. While he did play ‘Alphaville’ from the newest album, the set list was an odd mixture of covers with recognisable Roxy and Ferry solo numbers. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Avalon’ was great, as was ‘Love is the Drug’, the song that finally got people on their feet and dancing. But those came so late in the performance when Ferry should have gotten things started with guns blazing.

Also disappointing was the reliance on his touring bandmates’ solos, during which time the spotlight was directed on someone playing a saxophone, a guitar, etc. People had come to see Bryan Ferry perform, not see someone other than Ferry noodling on a guitar or playing trills on a clarinet while Ferry is playing piano in a darkened corner of the stage. With two quality back catalogues, someone like Bryan Ferry needs not rely on covers, yet he ended with a cover of Sam and Dave’s ‘Hold On, I’m Comin’ when he had plenty of other gems he could have chosen. The encore felt more like an afterthought, with everyone left pondering on how it should have been ‘More Than This’.

More photos and set list after the cut.
Continue reading Live Review: Bryan Ferry with Phenomenal Handclap Band at Strathmore Hall, Bethesda, MD – 3rd October 2011

 

Album Review: Bryan Ferry – Olympia

 
By on Thursday, 28th October 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

This year saw the reunion of influential ’70s glam rockers Roxy Music, unexpectedly performing at several major festivals this summer. (I was dying to see them at Lovebox.) They even have an arena tour scheduled for early 2011. Years ago when I first became a Duranie, I quickly and more than willingly became ensconced by the glamour and fashion of what Roxy Music represented to Duran Duran and how it affected the Brum group’s sound and aesthetic.

The coolest cat of them all, effortlessly sexy in a well-tailored Antony Price suit crooning ‘Love is the Drug’, was the man out in front. Bryan Ferry. Before Roxy Music ‘reunited’ as it were, he had been soldiering on solo with some degree of success after Roxy disbanded in 1983. This week he released his thirteen album, ‘Olympia’, and it’s nice to get some new material finally, since his 2007 effort ‘Dylanesque’, as the name suggests, was just a load of Bob Dylan covers. Snore.

There is a dancey, urban vibe that run through many of these songs from ‘Olympia’ – ‘Oh My My’, ‘Alphaville’, ‘BF Bass [Ode to Olympia]’. Probably the best tracks on the album – and most timeless Ferry – are ‘Heartache by Numbers’, his vocals married with a gorgeous chorus, and ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’, a tender ballad allowing a somewhat unanticipated peek into the innermost feelings of a man who for many years was one of England’s most desirable bachelors. And let us not forget the album closer, ‘Tender is the Night’: these days, I don’t think Bryan Ferry can go wrong when his voice is accompanied with gentle piano backing. Beautiful.

There is also a Jeff Buckley cover of ‘Song to the Siren’, but really the most surprising offering on this album is ‘Shameless’, a Groove Armada song Ferry added his voice to (this song also appears on the London duo’s album released this year, ‘Black Light’). This just goes to show that even though Bryan Ferry is in his mid-60s (and really, who is still in the business around that age except David Bowie and Rod Stewart?) he’s still as valid as he was as the frontman of Roxy Music back in the day and can collaborate with the best of them. He still knows how to pour emotion into every word and at times, make you want to cry. Ferry is one of those vocalists that I hope I get to see in performance in my lifetime.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqpgGnbTavY[/youtube]

To learn more about the recording of the album, you can watch an interview with producers Nile Rodgers (Chic) and Rhett Davies below.

8.5/10

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZbJsQaXHA0[/youtube]

 
 
 

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