Toronto Star - Sun 10th Nov

Toronto Star VIT WAGNER POP MUSIC CRITIC It began with an unaccompanied, suavely attired Bryan Ferry singing at the piano and ended with a stage full of musicians, including two lean and leggy backing singers tricked up in feathered costumes to resemble Las Vegas showgirls. The 57-year-old Roxy Music frontman's solo appearance Sunday at the Hummingbird Centre was nothing if not an escalation from introspective minimalism to flamboyant excess. It was also a polished, tightly choreographed presentation, during which Ferry and his crack accompanists managed to rip through more than 20 songs in around 85 minutes. In many respects, it was a noticeably tighter effort than last year's Roxy Music reunion tour. Part of the efficiency was rooted in Ferry's no-nonsense approach, which included not a moment of anecdotal banter. Beyond the occasional "Thank you," the singer's only aside on the night involved a necessarily lengthy introduction of his backing band, which included regular Roxy cohort Paul Thompson on drums and esteemed session man Chris Spedding on lead guitar. Singing covers and self-penned tunes spanning his entire, three-decade career, Ferry opened the proceedings on an intimate note, starting "The Only Face" alone before being joined by his violinist. From there, it built incrementally. Ferry played harmonica on "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," the Dylan cover from this year's Frantic CD. A harp was added to the standard "Falling In Love Again," followed by guitar for the traditional number "Carrickfergus" and Carole King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and sax and drums for "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." By the time he hit "The Thrill Of It All" from Roxy's 1974 album Country Life, Ferry was the focal point of a churning musical vortex that had expanded to include 11 other musicians and backing vocalists. Not a note or gesture went astray during the set, taped for later broadcast on CBC Radio. An iota of spontaneity might have interjected some welcome warmth, but it's hard to be overly regretful when presented with note-perfect renditions of "Jealous Guy," "Love Is The Drug," "Do The Strand" and "Let's Stick Together."

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