Bryan Ferry swaggered his way into Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena on Tuesday, February 26. STACK wouldn’t have missed it.
This evening, two very different crowds coalesce in the sporting precinct of Melbourne. A young, energetic mass, brimming with zeal sweep into the doors of Rod Laver Arena like a flash flood. Outside, a girl slumps against a wall, her head drapes forward as a trail of this afternoon’s liquored anticipation for the Arctic Monkeys show snakes back towards Richmond. Beside her, a boyfriend nonchalantly thumbs through social media on a phone.
Around the corner a more subdued gathering patiently files through the security gates of Margaret Court Arena. Here, boomer paunch, leopard print attire and bingo-grey tresses distinguish a majority of the attendees. That’s not to say there is diminished enthusiasm when Bryan Ferry and his nine-piece band stride onto the stage – far from it. And an older crowd means, mercifully, fewer phones illuminating the venue.
Bryan Ferry is a curiosity. Aside from the fleck of gunmetal grey gently conquering his hairline, he ages consistently with formaldehyde-like preservation. Dressed in a suit, brown Chelsea boots and an open shirt, equally, Ferry’s unique on (and off) stage air of sophistication remains ageless; a suave, dapper CEO of art rock.
A suave, dapper CEO of art rock.
This evening’s diverse setlist, offering an impressive 23 songs, burrows deep into the Roxy Music songbook with two thirds of the set lifting tracks from the band’s eight studio albums. A handful from his solo body of work ensures that all here this evening are catered for. Tracks from Roxy’s Flesh and Blood and Avalon albums, the most accessible and radio-friendly, elicit the most ardent response.
As expected from such an experienced frontman, his band is Tupperware tight. Session guitarist Chris Spedding is flawless, a master of an enviable number of interchanging guitars. But plaudits must go to local musician Jorja Marshall on saxophone and oboe, and violin/viola player Marina Moore – both deliver faultless performances, adding texture and presence to the setlist.
Initially, Ferry’s voice struggles with consistency but as his 73-year-old larynx warms to the occasion, his iconic croon finds its form and understandably, the songs are dropped an octave or two to compensate.
More Than This signals the arrival of crowd dancers at the front of the stage and by the time Love Is the Drug and Virginia Plain kick into life, there is barely a seated bottom on the ground floor. While Ferry’s voice has enjoyed better years, he still commands an alluring presence and judging by the rousing Let’s Stick Together that concludes the show, there would be few leaving Margaret Court Arena disappointed.