Bryan Ferry isn’t quite the oldest swinger in town yet as Getintothis’ Alan O’Hare finds the former Roxy Music man in fine fettle.
The smart dinner suits, the black ties and the crisp white shirts: everything you’d expect from a Bryan Ferry show. Except that it’s 8.15pm and the man himself still hasn’t appeared.
Instead, an ensemble of penguin-suited saxophonists, clarinet players and trumpeters of various ages are neatly assembled on stage – think a barbershop quartet meeting The Skinnerettes (remember them?). Hope Street has been turned into the Thames during regatta season.
This is ‘A Night with Bryan Ferry’, not a gig, and the orchestra bearing his name open proceedings with cabaret-esque Dixieland versions of Roxy Music hits – whetting the appetite of a packed Philharmonic audience in a way that a laminated menu shows hungry diners what they can look forward to.
Bryan Ferry live at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Finally, Ferry appears on stage like a suburban fox leaping from the shadows, not even breaking stride as he marches up to the mic with the band playing on. This is who everyone is here to see and the singer is ready.
Dressed in a paisley smoking jacket and black bow-tie (which was hung loose around his neck after one song), Ferry takes us on a musical journey through 40 years of hits.
His presence on the stage, along with his own (heavier) backing band, adds the muscle and might that so far have been lacking, with wind and brass no match for a little musical youth on electric guitar and drums.
Oh Yeah and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes give those who have been following Ferry for much of his lengthy career what they have come to hear – but the inclusion of covers, such as the delightful Carrickfergus and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, show that tonight is as much of a who’s who of hits, rather than a straightforward ‘best of’ set.
Bryan Ferry’s cabal of musicians in action at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
In keeping with the theatrical thread, a 20 minute interval allows Ferry to gather his breath. Just as well, because if there was ever a show of two halves this was it.
Following a resounding version of Jealous Guy, the audience – who had applauded politely from their seats most of the evening – sprung to life, taking this as their cue to rush to the front of the stage and be closer to their hero. Ferry responded in the only way he knows.
Casanova, Street Life, Love is the Drug and Shame, Shame, Shame are all belted out, accompanied by that strained harmonica and trademark dad dancing, that Ferry perfected back in the days before he was a dad.
A resounding version of Let’s Stick Together highlights the three-song encore, with the 68 year old beaming from ear-to-ear, milking the crowd’s wild reaction before slipping back into the shadows once more.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Ian Gamester.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Elvis Costello & The Imposters: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Ray Davies: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Bright Phoebus Revisited: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Richard Hawley: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool