~ Written by Jessica Price
Of all the days for me not to be aimlessly wandering Pike Place Market buying some fruit for the office pantry…yes, that would be the day Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music and duh, Bryan Ferry) plus members of his mighty eight-piece band were there, posing with balloon-animal-schlepping clowns and laughing at the Showgirls sign. Why did I miss this? How could I miss this?
I think if I’d been on my usual break, shoveling locally made Greek yogurt in my mouth, and come across this…
…I would have most certainly choked to death. Which might’ve got him to notice me at least. What a dashing jacket, what a soft-looking scarf! Oh Bryan, you are the suavest of the suave, second only perhaps to Bowie even now.
Without further ado, here’s my review of the show (which printed in Seattle Gay News on Friday, April 11…)
Bryan Ferry, icon of the seminal 70s glam rock band Roxy Music and later, the reinvented debonair solo artist that delivered hits “Slave to Love” and “Let’s Stick Together” appeared at a nearly sold out McCaw Hall Monday night. The Can’t Let Go tour was Bryan Ferry’s first North American tour in three years and kicked off just two nights prior in Vancouver. It wasn’t clear in the months leading up to the show whether the songs would be delivered in the style of the jazz age, as he’s done most recently with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra (“Love Is the Drug” was featured on The Great Gatsby Soundtrack), but as it turned out the tour featured true-blue renditions of an incredible selection of both Roxy Music and solo classics, rarities, and fan favorites (with a few regrettable omissions of course, but you can’t have it all).
The McCaw Hall was well suited to Ferry’s sophisticated musicianship and memorable croon, though he first appeared rather modestly at left-center stage behind his keyboard for “Re-Make/Re-Model” from Roxy Music’s 1972 debut. At 68, Ferry’s vocals are as smooth as ever, and what followed felt like an appropriately guided cruise through some of his best. Lanky and trim in an embellished floral smoking jacket, Bryan Ferry still exudes understated cool, where contemporaries like Sting and Rod Stewart seem to have long ago lost what edge they momentarily possessed.
“Kiss and Tell”, “Slave to Love”, and “Ladytron” completed the shimmering opening suite of songs, followed by the angular “Same Old Blues” and “If There Is Something”. Strangely, “More Than This” was beautifully stripped down but fleeting; started for barely a moment before Ferry went right into the equally classic “Avalon”. (Both songs deserved equal attention, especially since other gems like “Mother of Pearl” were sorely missed). The set went a bit downtempo for a stretch, veering into some solos and lengthy interludes that showed off the instrumentation well, but were a little hard for the audience to remain invested in. “Love Is the Drug”, “Virginia Plain”, and “Editions of You” brought things back into focus before the band stretched out once again with a one song encore of “Running Wild.”
Bryan Ferry and his talented eight piece band (including phenomenal drummer Charisse Osei, saxophonist Jorja Chalmers and spirited, shimmying backup singers Bobbie Gordon and Jodie Scantelbury) delivered some magical moments and fulfilled many lifelong dreams by stopping for an intimate evening at McCaw Hall. If the set was a bit indulgent and soft in places, it wasn’t exactly a surprise – Bryan Ferry has been nothing if not a smooth operator since the beginning, and will likely keep it up long after the rest have hung up their microphones and lost their hearing. With new material in the works inspired by last year’s acclaimed release The Jazz Age and remixes and covers of Roxy Music finding new audiences, it’s likely he’ll continue to be the king of suave for many years to come.