The crowds have been gathering outside AO Arena Manchester all afternoon. All eager to see the 50th Anniversary tour of music stalwarts Roxy Music. This is the first time the four original members Brian Ferry, Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, and Paul Thompson had played together since 2011. There is a real buzz as the crowd enter the arena.
The support band was Nilufer Yanya who played a beautiful opening set that really set the mood with her superb vocals that had the audience focused on her set, introducing new songs from her new album “Painless“ The venue filling up fast, were enjoying her set, the ideal warm up to the main event, leaving the stage to a great reception, a sure sign she has gained a good few new fans to her musical sound.
1/ Midnight sun
2/ Belong with you
4/ Rid of Me (PJ Harvey cover)
5/ The dealer
Fifty years ago, glam rockers Roxy Music released their self-titled debut album, shifting the tide of pop music in the United Kingdom certainly and eventually elevating the sophistication of the modern musical conversation globally.
Shortly after the lights went down, intro music playing as each member took to the stage to a round of applause as the took up their positions then Bryan Ferry walked on to the stage, the eruption of sound was deafening as he waved to the audience. As the intro music faded Ferry sat at the keyboards. It was rather poignant and completely in keeping with the detail, associated with the band over this expansive career, the first line of music is,” I tried but I could not find a way, looking back all, I did was look away, Next time is the best time we all know, but if there is no next time where to go”? Not only the opening song of the night, but it is also the opening line of their debut album, the self-titled Roxy Music. Is the excellent Re-Make / Re Model released in 1972, this was the perfect start to the show as each member had their own solo part, taking a bow to the audience and thanking them along the way. This was followed with the excellent “Out of the Blue“ and “The Bogus Man“, the Manchester audience were now out of their seats singing and dancing along to the music. The set was a real dive into some of the bands back catalogue, digging out real treats along the way .
This reunion tour, which has arrived in the Manchester after traveling down from Glasgow, then it’s on to London shows is perfectly timed to mark the 50th anniversary of that first Roxy Music record. While Brian Eno is not present, having started on to his own projects as early as 1973, the intervening half-century has not done the remaining band members any harm. Still full of style and sophistication. Guitarist Phil Manzanera, wearing a black and white lounge jacket adorned with printed guitars all over it, takes the limelight on several occasions with his string of fabulous guitar solos, notably the squalling climax of 1972’s “Ladytron”.
Saxophonist Andy Mackay proves frequently that his musical legacy of multiple wind instruments is as essential as the unmistakable crooning vocals of Ferry, as he frequently takes centre stage, effortlessly soloing on many tracks.
The band have a legacy of eight albums all of which released from 1972 until 1982, which also means that it’s the 40th anniversary since their last album. It’s clear they were ahead of their time, and it was not only their sense of emulating their peers, like Bowie, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, The Kinks, The Beatles, completely fitting into the glam rock era, their dress style was also an influence for many who have followed.
As the band carve a creative pathway through a 20-song set list, it was time for the big hits including “To Turn You On”, and “Dance Away”, preparing the Manchester crowd for a great finale. “More Than This”, and “Love Is The Drug“, Ferry belies his 77 years, dressed as sharp as ever, white open necked shirt and a deep blue designer suit, maybe the hair has gone a little lighter, the glittery eye shadow and eyeliner are missing, but his stature and vocal prowess as as enigmatic as ever. As the crowd’s vocal appreciation, starts to reach a crescendo, the iconic duo of tunes “Avalon” along with “Love is the Drug”, instantly rolls back the years for the audience who are now back in all those trendy night clubs and bars, from all those years ago.
The Roxy Music Train is full steam ahead and has the audience coming along for the ride. “Editions of You” and “Virginia Plain”, give the audience something that will undoubtedly stay with them for a long time.
Closing the initial set with one of the best ever cover versions of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”, is such a powerful statement, but not unexpected from a set that has been meticulously put together , Three key board players, backing vocalists, two drummers, guitarists, saxophone players nine people, all here to deliver against a backdrop that was as futuristic as their music back in the day, giant back screens projecting images of the band back in the early days, along with live images from the stage, all this enriched with a tapestry of lighting and strobes that fills the Arena.
As the climax of tonight’s fantastic show reaches a very heady climax, there is a sense of the end has come to quick, even though the band have treated us to well over 2 hours of musical bliss. It has been a pleasure to have seen the core of the band perform this musical heritage, leaving us with the upbeat “Do the Strand”, which sends the audience out into the night thankful for the experience of seeing this legacy of Roxy Music at first hand.
As a fan who was there in the early days the pleasure has been immense, one that along with the rest of tonight’s crowd I will treasure for a long time. For those that know, “The-sphynx-and-mona-lisa-lolita-and-guernica did the strand”.
2/ Out of the Blue
3/ The Bogus Man
5/ While My Heart Is Still Beating
6/ Oh Yeah
7/ If There Is Something
8/ In Every Dream Home a Heartache
10/ The Main Thing
11/ My Only Love
12/ To Turn You On
13/ Dance Away
14/ More Than This
16/ Love Is the Drug
17/ Editions of You
18/ Virginia Plain
19/ Jealous Guy (John Lennon cover).
20/ Do the Strand.
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