Bryan Ferry, “Live in Lyon” – Nuits de Fourviere, Blu-ray (2013)
Performers: Bryan Ferry – vocals, piano, harmonica; Oliver Thompson & Neil Hubbard – guitars; Colin Good – piano; Jorja Chalmers – oboe, sax, keyboards; Others [Tracklist follows]
Studio: Eagle Vision Enterprises EVB334669 [9/13]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16×9 1080i HD
Audio: PCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Extras: Bonus film “The Making Of Olympia”, 19 page illustrated booklet
Length: 143 minutes
It’s now been over forty years since the release of the first two Roxy Music albums. Unlike almost all other art-rock records, these two would still be perceived as startlingly unique even if released today. The combination of singer/songwriter Bryan Ferry and non-musician extraordinaire Eno’s otherworldly contributions created a sound like no other. Persona-wise, the 6’2″ Ferry projected a so-cool image as a retro-ized strangeoid with a smashingly singular vocal delivery including quivering, foppy elements mixed with a rich baritone. Eno delivered his synth and treatments presenting impossibly fey flamboyance just built for the stage or camera. Eno parted ways prior to the Stranded LP and Ferry fully took over direction and control of the band. Roxy conquered Europe immediately, but it took the single “Love Is The Drug” from 1975’s Siren for the U.S. to jump on board. A couple of breakups and reformations later, they released Avalon in 1982. This established Ferry’s future solo approach and won acclaim as causing the most births since the end of WWII due to its lush, yearning romanticism. Bryan Ferry released solo records almost from the get-go. A total of fourteen have been issued since 1973. As with Roxy towards the end, he traded the outrageous fashion glam panache for a smoking jacket, tuxedo, immaculately tailored Esquire look. Always appearing taller on stage, he retained his awkwardly un-hip moves while somehow making them become impossibly hep. A totally debonair crooner fronting driving rock backup – originality plus.
This concert video utilizes his substantial “book”, along with that of Roxy Music in July of 2011 at the ancient Roman ampitheatre in Lyon, France as part of the Nuits de Fourviere Festival. Actually, it’s lighter on Roxy stuff and focuses on his hits and reinterpretations of classic songs. Generally his reconstructions often sound like he’d never heard the original versions – a good thing. The live performances of his tunes overcomes the one complaint that some have had of his output: That he takes so long laboriously reworking arrangements, adding layer upon layer of depth until it robs some of the spontaneity and requires a very high resolution playback system to appreciate all the nuances so painstakingly achieved.The twin guitars of young Oliver Thompson and veteran Neil Hubbard makes one (almost) forget the criminally under-recognized Roxy axe man Phil Manzanera. Jorga Chalmers gorgeously fills Andy MacKay’s role on oboe and sax. Dual drummers Andy Newmark and Tara Ferry achieve Paul Thompson’s thunderous timekeeping. Colin Good is simply a masterful pianist. Bassist Jerry Meehan is rock solid. Ferry makes good use of twin backup singers on each stage side to assist him with some vocal passages. (He was 67 at the time after all). One of the visual treats is the presence of two supremely sexy dancers who seemingly appear more scantily clad with each costume change. Nice, and so appropriate for an artist whose whole shtick is fruitlessly chasing the uncatchable stylish fashion model female perfection of glamour.
The songs and their arrangements are top drawer with excellent solo spots. Consummately professional and inspired all around. The tracklist is well known to all Roxy/Ferry fans. The performance of the covers show just how many he has truly put his stamp on. For example, his take on Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” transcends the original and was Ferry’s only number one single in the UK. But he still is mystifyingly less known in the U.S. than he should be for an artist who has sold 40 million records worldwide. I think the live setting, at louder hard rock settings and clearly revealing the contributions by all, nicely overcomes the occasional sterility of the studio.
The guitar arrangements are neatly complimentary , with Thompson mostly doing the edgier stuff and Hubbard playing note perfect. All in all, a great show by a formidable and long lasting truly unique artist. Certainly among the best of his generation. Owning both this and Roxy’s reformation concert disc Live At The Apollo would bring one a near-complete overview of the Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music canon.
The disc includes a bonus feature film The Making Of Olympia. It’s a nice companion piece with interviews and performances from such as Nile Rogers, Flea, David Gilmour, Marcus Miller and others.
Oh, I almost forgot: The visuals, 5.1 sound, and stage setting are simply wonderful. This is a really fine production from each and every aspect. As an aging rocker, I was thrilled to be enraptured by the performance of a person who maintains such a stature and presence despite over 40 years of working his craft. Perfectly groomed and dressed – defying the years just as his music has withstood the ravages of time so brilliantly.
TrackList: I Put A Spell On You; Slave To Love; Don’t Stop The Dance; Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues; If There Is Something; Make You Feel My Love; You Can Dance; Alphaville; Reason Or Rhyme; Oh Yeah!; Like A Hurricane; Tara; Bitter-Sweet; Avalon; My Only Love; What Goes On; Sign Of The Times; Love Is The Drug; All Along The Watchtower; Let’s Stick Together; Hold On I’m Coming.
—Birney K. Brown