Leeuwin, Perth. - Sat 19th Feb

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Audience takes time to find its Roxy moxie


YOU couldn't blame the crowd for being a little restless. The annual Leeuwin Estate concert is an important date on the West Australian social calendar. It sells out months in advance and traditionally has been very much a hits and memories affair. That wasn't what was delivered on Saturday. It was much more.
Bryan Ferry is one of the few artists who have managed to maintain a successful solo career while also leading a successful band in Roxy Music. To many, the two are interchangeable, but clearly in his mind they are very different beasts.

Ferry has been a crooning hit maker while the mothership came to be playing noisy, angular rock. That they would enjoy their greatest success with smooth, dance influenced songs that seemed to suit the image of solo Ferry only made it more confusing.

Despite being in blinding form from the first note on Saturday, Ferry, his founding Roxy principals Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay and Paul Thompson and supporting cast were struggling to connect. At one stage Ferry asked: "You still here?" The audience chatter rose by the song as they offered album tracks like The Main Thing, 2HB, If There Is Something, the gorgeous ballad Just like You and Ferry's ode to falling in love with a sex doll, In Every Dream Home a Heartache.

It was 12 songs in and well over half way through their 100-minute set before they played a bona fide Australian hit. When they launched into the intro to Same Old Scene the winery erupted. From that point the familiar was just a song or two away as Love Is The Drug, Jealous Guy, Avalon and the lone solo Ferry moment in the shape of Let's Stick Together hit the spot. If casual fans were disappointed by the setlist - many of their hits would be missing - there could be no issues with the performance and the dynamic sound mix.

The 11-piece band's playing was energetic. Only occasionally did the full bombast of their early recordings peek through and when they did highlight their once futuristic sounds such as the synthesiser solo on 1972 British hit Virginia Plain, it now seemed quaint.

In 2011 Roxy Music isn't about going back to the past; it is all about bringing the past into the present. As ever, good songs have no trouble making sense in new settings. And a late summer's night in the heart of WA's wine region was a hell of a setting.

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