Royal Albert Hall Review (Melody Maker) - Sat 12th Feb

Royal Albert Hall Review (Melody Maker)
12 February 1977
Ferry: Coolly Superb
By Allan Jones for Melody Maker, February 12 1977

Bryan Ferry first appeared at London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall in the winter of 1974. It was, I think, his third solo concert, designed to capitalise on the unprecedented success of the two albums he had recorded under his own name between sessions for various Roxy Music epics.
The prospect of a solo Ferry performance was inviting, but the reality of that particular concert was profoundly disappointing: Ferry himself seemed utterly nervous that night and his apprehension was communicated to his band and the intrusive and unnecessary orchestra that supported them.

Ferry returned to the RAH last Monday for the first of three London concerts in which it is estimated he will play to more than 18,000 people; and such was the genuine excellence of his performance and the superb musicianship of his new 11-piece band (featuring the unique and enthralling combination of Phil Manzanera and the ridiculously brilliant Chris Spedding on guitars) that all memory of that earlier disappointment was entirely eradicated.

Ferry appeared to tremendous applause, turned out like Marlon Brando in the movie of Damon Runyon's Guys 'n' Dolls: cool and casually sinister, and surprisingly relaxed and confident beneath the first-night nerves.

"Let's Stick Together" and Jimmy Reed's "Shame Shame Shame" (which featured a classically pertinent Spedding solo over the terrific verve of the three-piece brass section in which Chris Mercer and Mel Collins continually excelled) opened the proceedings with the kind of ferocity and energy that characterised the whole of the concert.

The opulence and grandeur of the Albert Hall was strikingly appropriate to Ferry's particularly stylised sense of romanticism and the elegant despair that he so eloquently conveys, particularly through the outstanding songs from his new album, "In Your Mind" (the title track of which was played with exhilarating grace with Manzanera's superbly disciplined rhythm guitar enhancing Spedding's audacious and dramatic solo).

Ferry's current repertoire refers only briefly to Roxy Music (he performed just three songs, including a ravishing version of "Love is the Drug" and a dazzling version of "Casanova" from the Roxy albums).

The majority of the material was drawn from his first solo album (including an infectious "Hard Rain" which concluded the concert and an enthralling "These Foolish Things") and his forthcoming solo album.

"One Kiss" from that album provided, together with "Tokyo Joe" from the same source, the stunning highlight of the concert, with Ferry's vocals -- so understated by some -- chillingly emotional and Spedding proving that he is, with his nonchalant pigeon-toed stance, the Hank B. Marvin of the Blank Generation, and one of the most astute and deceptie guitarists in contemporary rock.

Really, such was the humour, imagination, committment and almost surreal energy of Ferry's performance, that if David Bowie is currently creating the musical Alphaville, then it's supremely possible that when it's finally completed Ferry will be appearing on the opening night at its equivalent of The Talk of The Town.

He remains his own most inspired creation and I'll be surprised if I enjoy a concert by a British artist with such enthusiasm again this year


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