Melody Maker - - Review Of The Birmingham Show - Sat 27th Oct

Melody Maker - - Review Of The Birmingham Show
27 October 1973

Roxy's Song for Europe

Steve Lake for 'Melody Maker'

IF YOU'D told the freakiest teenagers of Birmingham a year ago that they'd soon be groovin' to a Charles Aznavour-styled ballad, you'd doubtless have met with cynical and bewildered derision. None the less, that's what happened at that city's Town Hall last Sunday when Roxy Music stormed in for a brief but memorable appearance. The piece in question was Andy McKay's number "A Song For Europe," an extract from Roxy's forthcoming album.

It was unfortunate, however, that the sound system didn't do justice to the band's new repertoire which obviously includes future classics and stage favourites. Maybe one reason for the curious acoustics was that the band hasn't yet mastered their new electronics set up. Synthesizer duties are now split three ways, following the departure of Bryan Eno, with Phil Manzanera and Andy using foot pedal-controlled synthesizers and new recruit and multi-instumentalist Eddie Jobson twiddling the dials on the VCS3. This gives any of the three the ability to change the sound drastically, and the unlucky sound-mix man is left struggling to regain a sensible balance.

But for all the aural accidents, the new Roxy convinced that they can truly cut it as a tight rock band, and on a purely musical basis they're better than ever. Jobson proves a valuable addition placing Cal-esque violin lines to revamp old numbers like "Chance Meeting," soaring about and around Phil Manzanera's finely controlled feedback. Paul Thompson was as punchy, funky and original as ever and McKay soloed well on soprano sax, and added grumbling baritone comments to bass man Sal Maida looking appropriately emaciated and rock-starish but his playing was often inaudible.

But as far as the crowd was concerned, it was still Bryan Ferry's show, and they swooned as he crooned through "Streetlife", "Mother of Pearl" (from the new album) and "Virginia Plain" a leering sneering cocktail waiter figure in white jacket black tie, rings too. The closer "Psalm" was a fascinating oddity, starting very hymnal and building to a New Orleans feel with Ferrys vibrato executing dramatic leaps before he switched to chromatic harmonica, actually playing in the right key (more than can be said for his blues harp wailing in "Grey Lagoon"). The mob wanted more, of course, and got it. "Do The Strand" was very fierce and pounding. Great music, but those gremlins in the equipment need silencing

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