Evening Standard - Royal Albert Hall - Thu 15th Mar

Evening Standard - Royal Albert Hall
15 March 2007
Bryan bewitches with a little help from Dylan
By John Aizlewood, Evening Standard

Chameleon: Bryan Ferry appears re-invigorated as he covers Dylan songs at the Albert Hall

For one who seems to spend much of his life merely perfecting his slope-shouldered elegance, Bryan Ferry has been rather busy of late.

Not content with supporting the pro-hunting lobby with a fanaticism which suggested he might actually sacrifice a fox on stage, the 61-year-old has recently become the face of Marks & Spencer's Autograph clothes range - post-Ferry, sales rose six per cent - and has involved himself with a campaign to stop his local council turning Sloane Square into a crossroads.

More shocking still, not only is there a Roxy Music album in whatever "the works" are, but his new solo album composed entirely of Dylan covers (a new album of Ferry songs, might, you suspect, be a creative act too far) has given him his first top 10 showing since 1993's Taxi and, despite his longstanding reluctance to tread the boards, last night was the climax of an extensive tour.

Little wonder, then, that he seemed so galvanised, despite needing a lectern in case he forgot the words.

Before an audience who had collectively spurned the opportunity to purchase a Ferry bandana for £10 from the merchandise stall, and with those unmistakable, lonesome vocals reassuringly high in the mix, he and his 10-piece band set about both matching and confounding expectations.

The Dylan album might be a sloppy idea, but (aside from repeated, uncalled-for harmonica interjections) he made a fine fist of Simple Twist Of Fate, delivered The Times They Are A-Changin' with the troubled air of one who very much hoped they were a-stayin' the same and imbued Positively 4th Street with a hushed anger Dylan would surely approve of. When the time came for sincerity on Make You Feel My Love, Ferry was bewitching.

Early on, Ferry had promised "a mixed bag". How right he was and how brave his selections were. Predictably, he wheeled out the occasional solo and Roxy Music hit. Just four people started dancing to Don't Stop The Dance, but the solitary encore, Love Is The Drug, was as punchy as Ricky Hatton.

More intriguing were the exhumed oddities, which delighted diehards while confusing those mistakenly expecting Jealous Guy - a heroic, lavishly arranged Love Me Madly Again and a gorgeous When She Walks In The Room.

By the end, four dancers had become the whole hall and Ferry, the lazy chameleon, had both reinvented and re-invigorated himself. There's life in those old bones yet.

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