Review: Bryan Ferry at The Orpheum Theatre
Few 70-plus-year olds are as cool as Bryan Ferry. While most entertainers at this age are slowing down or sadly gone, the British singer and former Roxy Music front man is still going strong.
Based on the packed Orpheum Theatre crowd, Ferry still has massive appeal. After seeing his performance, it’s easy to understand why fans are still following his every move. Bryan Ferry packs a particular swagger, evident from the moment he casually struts onstage minutes before his scheduled set time. If someone can make showing up early look cool, it’s this guy.
Ferry is 71 and still confident and strong as ever. His music, both solo and older Roxy Music tunes, retains a timeless, cinematic quality that is missing from the sonic landscape nowadays. Some of these songs are pushing 45 years old, but still sound as crisp and refreshing as the day they were released. As a set, his own material and a slew of covers worked together for a cohesive, moody performance that left his devout fans hungry for more.
Covers like John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” and The Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On” peppered the otherwise Ferry/Roxy set list with some interesting diversions. They also helped proved the point that this guy can sing whatever the hell he wants and do it well. With a record catalogue that includes multiple covers, it was no surprise to see him throw a few into his show. But the main focus here was reliving Roxy Music glory days with the voice of the group. Ferry helped his fans relive their glory days and was not cheap with Roxy Music material over the course of the night.
Despite Roxy Music’s on again-off again status, Ferry embraces his former band as the reason he’s still somewhat of a household name. Exactly half the evening’s set was Roxy Music material, ranging from early tracks like “If There Is Something” from the band’s 1972 debut up to the band’s last proper single, “Avalon”. These tunes are what fans at The Orpheum responded to the loudest. Just notes into “Remake – Remodel”, the crowd began applauding feverishly. Having already swarmed around the entire perimeter of the stage, this frantic crowd also showed no signs of aging despite being an older crowd who clearly grew up loving Roxy Music and adoring Ferry as the poster boy for art rock.
Bryan Ferry stood at the center of the stage and ignored the adoration mostly, giving the odd “thank you” and smile, but mostly focusing on being in the moment with his music. Switching in between his microphone stand and the keyboard was about as lively as he got, reminding the audience that bells and whistles really aren’t needed for a beautiful night of music. He managed to perform his 90 minute plus set without a hitch, and showed his class when he introduced every individual in his dozen strong backing band. Bonus props to the killer saxophone player who stole the show several times, strutting to the front of the stage and oozing sensual vibes while playing her heart out.
But Ferry himself is no slouch musically, and pulls his weight just as much as every member on stage. This is no example of an aging rocker surrounding themselves with wonderful musicians who do all the work for them. Ferry has no problem busting out a harmonica solo during “Simple Twist Of Fate” or triumphantly singing a two dozen song set list without any breaks. Props must be given to this wonderful legend. It just goes to show that sometimes a good thing can last and almost improve with age.
Ferry is a man for the ages, showing appeal to a wide range of demographics and generations. His appeal knows no bounds, and with reason. When you have a voice like his, style like his, and such a unique and impressive career like he’s had, you have all the makings for a brilliant live performance. When a voice can command in the way his can, it would be a grave injustice to not give the people a chance to listen.