Review and photos by Andy ArgyrakisAfter a nearly complete reunion tour in 2001 and a successful solo outing by front man Bryan Ferry last year, it's no wonder why the reincarnation of Roxy Music returned to the road this summer rejuvenated for a limited run of stateside and European dates. No, members may not have any new material to peddle nor was avant-garde creative mastermind Brian Eno a part of this return trek, but the band's Illinois show was far from a nostalgic trip down memory lane or an attempt to cash in on a quality filled tradition that dates back to the group's self titled inaugural recording in 1972. Instead Thursday's show was a celebration of over three decades of music making, which has not only has been revered and emulated by countless artistically oriented bands since the group's debut single "Virginia Plain" hit airwaves, but has withstood the test of time and tackiness of trends.
The always dapper, suave, and seductively soulful Ferry was backed by some of the finest players to ever walk the planet in the form of ferocious guitarist Phil Manzanera (guitar), enveloping saxophonist Andy Mackay, and steady handed drummer Paul Thompson. Together, the acclaimed musicians treated fans to a generous helping of boxed set material, touching on the distinct commercial highs, under the radar gems, and an unbeatable chemistry flanked between unmatched class and charisma. With a setting sun behind them, a sea of smoke and mood lighting, plus a beefed up backing band (including two sensual background singers and vivacious violin player) the guys wasted no time settling into notable cuts like the sweltering "Street Life," the melancholy "In Every Dream Home a Heartache," and the entrancing "While My Heart is Still Beating."
No matter what the mood, Ferry was as debonair as ever, clearly sweeping the mostly middle aged crowd off their feet with every wink of his eye and turn of his microphone stand- especially as the band further unveiled the sax smothered "Avalon" and the husky but elegant "Ladytron." On "Out of the Blue" those encapsulating stares and pristine croons were met by violin bursts and soulful background accompaniment, all of which resurfaced in greater doses under the aggressive attack of "Virginia Plain" and "Do the Strand," both of which were complete with the crowd's singing in tow. Other multi-faceted numbers, like the sophisticated lounge-like stroll of "Oh Yeah," the post disco delicacy "Dance Away," and the punk powered "Love Is the Drug" (enhanced by a dance routine taken straight out of Las Vegas) further showcased the band's stylistic switchovers and cross genre appeal.
If there were a single drawback to the Tweeter Center outing, it was the tease that this seminal line-up was on stage and working together yet once more, but still such collaborations have failed to muster up fresh produce. Granted, all the members (especially Ferry) have been involved in projects and sessions of their own since the group's original demise following 1982's "Avalon," but there's really no reason why they can't return to the creative genius they've always conjured up in the studio. There's no sense in even having to worry about fitting in with the times, as transitions from members' art rock dabbling prior to uniting in the late '60s, followed by its experimental rock dominance in the 70s, and transition to the romantic dance period of '80s have all been seamless. If one message was to come from Roxy Music's latest touring venture, it's that the band still has the midas touch and should continue to apply themselves collectively while they still have age, looks, and health on their side.
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