Chicago Tribune Review - Mon 22nd Sep

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Fonting Roxy Music through the '70s, the young Bryan Ferry already exuded a certain world-weariness, like someone who'd traveled to the future and back, forced to live his life a second time, guided by the lessons learned several decades down the line. By the time the rest of the world caught up, somewhere in the '80s, Ferry's cool ruled. It's the sound he pioneered, coursing through countless singles of the new wave era. It's the dapper look he trademarked, so exacting his hair stylist earned credit on his album sleeves. And there's his face, hanging on a wall in Ferris Bueller's bedroom, actually above it all.

The Bryan Ferry who performed Sunday night at the Chicago Theatre hadn't moved far beyond the louche style he'd refined by Roxy Music's 1982 swan song, "Avalon," but that was no surprise: It still fits him as well as his enviable collection of tailored suits. Befitting his long stints in the studio and his talented session hands, Ferry's renditions of his perfect, perfectionist adult pop paid rigid respect to the careful craft that brought it to light in the first place. You don't see Ferry for spontaneity. You go to see everything put in its right place, like an impeccably decorated home adorned with mementos from a four-decade career.
Yet Ferry, who turns 69 Friday, was no leisurely host. He isn't one to waste time, and his performance was often one of careful efficiency, built and calibrated to carry him from Roxy's crazed manifesto "Re-Make/Re-Model" through the slick "Slave to Love," the campy chaos of "Virginia Plain" to the lilting "Avalon." With minimal banter, he moved between the microphone and a bank of keyboards, tapping his leg in time to the music as he let his band do the heavy lifting, connecting Ferry's often elegantly languid solo work with his more restless roots.
But if the galloping sonic exoticism of "Ladytron" (one of several songs to prominently feature striking reed player Jorja Chalmers) contrasted radically with the smooth as silk "Oh Yeah," Ferry's warbling croon presented the two extremes as part of the same vision, the wry lounge lizard as sentimental fool, the careless energy of youth tempered and tamed by the regret that comes with experience. "It was fun for a while," Ferry sang in the sublime "More Than This," the song stripped down to little more than his voice and keyboards, inviting the crowd to bask in his exquisite ennui.

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