Brisbane: A Few Reminders of Roxy Heights - Sat 11th Aug

Brisbane: A Few Reminders of Roxy Heights
11 August 2001

By Martin Buzacott (The Australian, Monday 13th August, 2001)

Roxy Music's reunion tour, coming almost 20 years after the group broke up, carries few of the risks which affect other pop music revival shows. Frontman Bryan Ferry's style was always out of its time, seeming to date from the era of the 1940s bandleaders.

As the Australian leg of their 2001 world tour kicked off in Brisbane, Ferry, alongside psychedelic guitar master Phil Manzanera,the venuncular reed player Andy Mckay and original drummer Paul Thompson, demonstrated that time has beenvery kind to Roxy Music.

Its members now well into their 50s, the bands original image as vaguely seedy lounge lizards dabbing with studied insouciance in great pop music has grown more plausible.

The style is still as important as the substance, and the elegant suits and Ferry's white dinner jacket remain timeless. So too does Ferry's voice. An acquired taste on disc, the huffing baritones affectations and limited range are less noticeable in concert, especially within a sound mix, that left much to be desired.

This is a ten-piece Roxy Music, without Brian Eno -- who no longer tours --but bolstered by rootsy guitar player Chris Spedding, bassist Zev Katz, multi-instrumentalist Lucy Wilkins, vocalist Sarah Brown, keyboardist Colin Good, percussionist Julia Thornton and four female dancers. Although unequivocally a pop band, the new Roxy Music plays with the heaviness of a hard rock act. The result is a strangely characterless performance of many of the greatest hits, devoid of the catchy, quirky quality that kept the band in the charts for ten years.

Oh Yeah and Avalon were leaden, the latter segueing all too quicky into an unpolished version of Dance Away. But a searing version of John Lennon's Jealous Guy defied the trend. Kicking off the concert with Remake/Remodel from the first Roxy Music album, followed by a poorly mixed version of Street Life, was perhaps a courageous choice. But to conclude with the less-than-stirring For Your Pleasure was downright anti-climatic. The omission of More Than This was another poor decision.

But although the classics didn't always fare too well, some of the less radio-friendly repertoire, such as the majestic Song to Europe, the duelling guitars on Both Ends Burning and Lucy Wilkin's outrageous violin solo on Out of the Blue provided enough reminders that Roxy Music, were, and at times remain, a great band with songs that will endure.

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