On the 19th May, I was given the amazing opportunity to see Bryan Ferry’s concert at the Tempodrom in Berlin. Ferry was accompanied by members of the original line-up of Roxy Music (Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, Paul Thompson) together with newer members, such as Jorja Chalmers on saxophone, keyboard and clarinet, Jacob Quistgaard on lead guitar and Lucy Wilkins on violin and viola.
My expectations before the concert weren’t too high. I had a quick listen to Bryan’s solo career, and some of Roxy Music’s greatest hits, and I recognised a few, which I didn’t think much of.
This concert changed my whole perception of this band! The music itself was brilliant and had very interesting and creative arrangements. Apart from some very long guitar solos, there was almost always something new and exciting happening, whether it was an unusual pad in the background or a two-bar piano fill randomly placed within a song. It was a great combination of complicated musical pieces and carefree playfulness while they worked through the setlist, for instance, when the band made a break in one of the songs and let the bassist play the first two bars of the riff from The Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper’. It was so unexpected and we all started laughing at this genius input.
The highlight of the show was when everyone in the band went off stage for a break, except the clarinet player, lead guitarist, piano player and violinist. During a time period of ten minutes, the light in Tempodrom shifted to dark blue as the quartet took turns playing some magnificent solo pieces in an atmospheric jam in a minor key. If you want to create magic on stage, this was definitely a good way to do it.
The rhythm section was another great part of the overall experience. I’ve never seen a cooler, more rocking grandpa bass player than this one! With shades on, grey hair and a big smile, he kept a solid groove from the left to the right leg all through the set. Together with the drummer, who seemed to have a full body workout in every song, they played united with huge enthusiasm while delivering a tight groove.
Mr. Ferry seemed, compared with his band mates, a bit sleepy in the more upbeat songs – until he sat down behind his electric piano and started the intro to a slow, more intimate song. You could tell he felt at home behind the keys, while his voice was filled with emotion as he sang his personal lyrics about heartache and darkness. The honesty and vulnerability hit me right in the heart, and I’m pretty sure everyone in the audience could feel the pain he was singing about.
The amazing musicians, arrangements and diversity of songs in the setlist made Bryan Ferry’s concert climb to my number one best live show so far (and I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen!). I was just swept away by this 90-minute long performance and forgot all about time and space, completely captured in the moment.
If you can get a ticket to see this act, I would recommend you do. You won’t regret it!
Photo by Electronic Beats, watch the video here.