Nottingham Show - This Is Nottingham - Thu 3rd Feb

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Roxy Music, Capital FM Arena

by Sean Hewitt for This Is Nottingham

IT'S banging on for ten years since Roxy Music last came to town. They were so brilliant that I wondered if I should ever see them again. Could they ever top it?

Well, I saw them again this week and they didn't. Not really. But at times it was a close-run thing.

As ever, the production was fairly lavish. There were 12 musicians – including Bryan Ferry's son Tara hidden at the back on inaudible percussion, getting in the way of the masterful Paul Thompson - and two dancers. An enormous backdrop showed various animated illustrations of each song, artfully overlaid with tinted video of the band as they played live. Very sophisticated, as you'd expect of a concert where the bass player was called Jeremy and the besuited keyboard player wore a bow tie.

Ferry himself was the usual eccentric figure stage front. He always strikes me as a strangely shy figure to be fronting an arena rock show, although he did look increasingly cheerful as the night wore on.

There's already been a lot of chatter about the choice of songs on this tour, with some saying that Roxy are ignoring the hits to play loads of their odd, experimental early stuff.

On the night, though, there were loads of hits. And, as it's the odd, early experimental stuff that got me interested in Roxy Music in the first place, I'm the last you'll hear complaining.

The problems for me were the boomy, echo-heavy sound mix and the bizarre running order.

They started with The Main Thing. That's a pretty nondescript midtempo chugger and, if you have to play it, it's probably best not to play it first, especially when you're just about to blast into the dazzling Street Life, a natural opener. It was like going for a curry and getting the hot towel before the spicy starter.

Still, things soon got better. Pyjamarama, Amazona, a touching Just Like You and a sinister In Every Dream Home A Heartache, ending with a magnificent Phil Manzanera guitar solo, were thrilling, while both a beautifully arranged My Only Love (highlighting Ferry's piano playing and a dramatic solo by second guitarist Oliver Thompson) and the elegant, rarely played To Turn You On reminded us of the quality of Ferry's later songwriting.

But the middle section was a relentless selection of hardcore fan favourites - exhilarating for the ancient likes of your reviewer but probably bewildering for anyone else.

In 2001, I saw the band with someone who previously knew nothing about Roxy Music and was converted instantly. This week I went with a friend who likes a lot of their music, especially the earlier material, but was left nonplussed.

Then again, the final half-hour or so - with rapturously received versions of Jealous Guy and Avalon and an explosive run through Virginia Plain, a storming Editions Of You, the timeless Do The Strand and, finally, the mysterious For Your Pleasure – was electric.

But it should have been like that all night. And ten years ago, at the same venue, it was

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