On my bucket list, along with visit New Zealand, sleep with Monica Bellucci and pet a tiger, was see Bryan Ferry in concert. A trifling bucket list item but one, nevertheless that had very little chance of being ticked off Ferry being 70 and unlikely to put another album that would require a tour of America. Then along came ‘Avonmore’, an album that could perhaps best me seen as a companion piece to his eighties yuppie opus ‘Avalon’, a record that was the official music of many a metropolitan dinner party on both sides of the Atlantic.
Album meant tour, and a couple of gigs at the Beacon Theatre in NYC.
Ferry is one of those people who have a selective appeal. His wavering croon and debonair appearance can be off-putting to those not really listening to the originality of his delivery and the content of some of the lyrics, particularly the earlier work like ‘Virginia Plain’ which has it’s tongue firmly in its highly rouged cheek.
It’s also apparent from the very middle-aged audience that attended the show (including of course, me) that his appeal doesn’t crossover to the young.
This is a shame because in many ways Ferry made superior music to Bowie, if admittedly not as diverse.
But maybe in a way that is way. Ferry clearly had a very singular idea of what he was going to do and repeated it until it reached its high water market with Avalon.
The concert is itself was a revelation. Sometimes you need to see someone live to truly understand what they’re about, even if you have been listening to their records for your entire life.
Ferry managed to make old material like ‘Editions of You’, mid-period stuff like ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Loop de Li’ from his latest feel unified, the journey of someone who’s been making music for over 40 years.
On stage you could see Ferry as part lounge singer, in the mold of Serge Gainsbourg and part –soul singer in the vein of Smokey Robinson.
As the gig built this sprightly septuagenarian rolled back the years and really did rock out with a selection of tracks that showed what a great back catalogue truly is.
Two nights ago I’d seen Radiohead and they could learn a thing or two from Ferry about how to please crowd.
I don’t know how future generations will see him but for me he is a true original