Roxy Music At The Rainbow - Sat 12th Oct

Roxy Music At The Rainbow
12 October 1974

Achtung Roxy!

Allan Jones for 'Melody Maker'

WELL, it was certainly quite impressive, there's no denying that. Auspicious, even. The safety curtain rose for the first night of Roxy Music's four night extravaganza at the Rainbow, London, to reveal a set that wouldn't have seemed out of place in some grotesque Nazi epic like Triumph of the Will, or alternatively would have graced the fall of the Hapsburg Empire.

The band - minus the star of the show - stood immobile as the pre-recorded drum rolls echoed around the theatre, heavy with menace. The audience seized at its collective heartbeat as Phil Manzanera slammed into the opening chords of "Prairie Rose," and La Ferry strolled nonchalantly on stage. It was goodbye Tyrone Power and hello Ronald Coleman as the Prisoner of Zenda. His costume certainly seemed appropriate to the fascistic stage setting, and he looked in turns like Coleman, and a Gestapo inquisitor.

It was, with the addition of "Virginia Plain", essentially the same act that Roxy premiered at Cardiff on the opening night of the tour, but something was definitely missing, some intangible that would have given the music some heart. The sound contained an icy penetration that denied any depth or contact. It was perfect for the chilling reading of "In Every Dream Home" and "Song For Europe," where the distance created between the band and the audience enhanced the inherent mystery of the songs. But the new numbers suffered, not because of unfamiliarity, but because of the balance of compromise Ferry achieved by some banal introductions. I can remember when he hardly spoke a word to his audience, and that distance was destroyed on Saturday. Ferry just doesn't make it on that level. He looks strained and uncomfortable even acknowledging the presence of an audience.

The band, though, were superb. Wetton's bass, especially on "Song For Europe" was marvellous, meshing perfectly with Paul Thompson's immaculate drumming. Manzanera was, as ever, superb, creating all kinds of tension and counterpoints to Andy Mackay and Eddie Jobson. The audience, of course, were barely able to restrain themselves, and during "Street Life" they made their first flight towards the stage, a position they occupied until the final moments of "Do The Strand," the one and only encore. The band came to life during the final numbers, and Mackay even attempted a suitable restrained duck walk during his solo on "Editions Of You." But finally, one was left, whatever one's admiration for Roxy's achievements, with a strange uneasiness and apprehension for their future, at least as far as live performances are concerned.

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