Concert Review – Bryan Ferry live in Las Vegas
Las Vegas and Bryan Ferry are a perfectly blended cocktail of mystery and seduction. Equal parts old-school crooner and art-rock pioneer, Ferry’s infallible legacy in music needs little introduction.
With subtle elegance, he walks on to the stage at the aptly named Chelsea and holds an entire audience in his spell for almost two hours. The Englishman wastes little time talking throughout the night and allows each carefully arranged song to enrapture the unusually attentive Vegas audience.
Roxy Music’s influence on glam-rock, new wave and dance music bleeds into almost everything released since 1980, so Ferry’s deep setlist pulls from all stages of his career. To pull off the show so eloquently, Ferry has assembled one of the strongest roster of musicians currently on the road (Roger Waters’ current tour might be the only rival). Studio legend Chris Spedding shares the six-string responsibilities with Jacob Quistgaard while multi-instrumentalists Marina Moore and Jorja Chalmers add violin, saxophone and keyboards. The formidable band shifts effortlessly between the art-rock edginess of early Roxy Music with the smooth soulfulness that permeates the band’s latter albums and Ferry’s solo career.
In many ways, Ferry represents a musical James Bond where an underlying melancholy draws us close enough for him to whisper in our ears. Older only in age, Ferry still strikes a refined pose in his slim fitting suit and piercing eyes. Throughout the night, it is debatable who is watching who as Ferry holds us affixed by his dark gaze. On Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate”, he brings out the tantalizing possibilities of romance and sex in ways that Dylan could never capture in his own delivery. Whether inspiring an entire African tribe to worship him or a woman to jump on stage only to stand mesmerized by his presence (as happened tonight), Ferry’s magnetism functions on such a visceral level that we are all, in fact, slaves to love.
Completely entranced by perfect arrangements of lesser-known songs, we are jolted out of our spell by the familiar notes of “More Than This” as Ferry and the band string together a run of his most beloved hits including “Avalon”, “Love Is the Drug” and “Virginia Plain” – which ends with all of us screaming her name in the throes of musical ecstasy. Rather than leaves us breathless, Ferry and the band press deeper with an extended encore that ends with “Do the Strand” from Roxy Music’s 1973 masterpiece For Your Pleasure.
Walking offstage after a nod of appreciation to both the musicians and the audience, one is left with the impression that Ferry’s greatest pleasure lies in the songs themselves. Much like the brush of a hand that lingers a little too long, Ferry’s commitment to each note, each word, each moment of a song reveals his deepest desire as a musician – to find a shared intimacy through music. Such possibilities are becoming rare in popular music as product eats away at the corpse of art. Tonight’s tryst with Bryan Ferry reminds each of us that we are alive and that love exists in the warm touch of a song.