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Concert Reviews:
Bryan Ferry gets his Roxy off at the Fox Theatre

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Sunday, August 4, 2019

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DETROIT -- If we can't have Roxy Music any more, Bryan Ferry provides a more than acceptable substitute.

The suave frontman's world tour, which stopped Saturday night, Aug. 3, at the Fox Theatre, is a de facto celebration of Roxy, dormant since 2011, and its March induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Seventeen of the night's 24 songs came from the Roxy repertoire -- eight from the group's final studio album, 1982's "Avalon." And while the sight of Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay and Paul Thompson may have been missed, Ferry and his nine-piece band made those and the night's other song sound exactly like any fan would want.

At 73 Ferry still cut a potent figure in his tailored suit, maintaining a smoldering reserve and playing piano for about half the show -- and harmonica twice. Despite an oddly muffled sound mix he was in strong voice throughout the hour and 45 minutes, even though he was clearly having problems with the mix in his own in-ear monitors. He didn't have much to say -- and you could barely make it out anyway -- but at just before "If There is Something" he referenced the Detroit bankruptcy and noted that, "I'm so glad you all pulled through it."

Following Sophia Auster's powerful opening set, Ferry and company delivered an abundance of musical highlights -- from the get-go with "The Main Thing" and "The Space Between" through to disco ball-lit performances of "Dance Away" and "Jealous Guy." Many of Saturday's textured, nuanced arrangements lent a distinct prog-rock flavor to songs such as "The 39 Steps," "Boys and Girls" and "In Every Home a Heartache," while the troupe's chugging take on Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" elevated the energy level early in the show. The tall and lithe Jorja Chalmers, looking like she came straight out of a Robert Palmer video, lit up songs such as "If There is Something" with her saxophone solos, while Chris Spedding and Tom Vanstiphout formed a complementary guitar tandem all night long.

The show's deep digs -- "While My Heart is Still Beating," "My Only Love," "Take a Chance on Me," "To Turn You On," "If There is Something" -- were certainly welcome, but the real lift-off came late as Ferry and his crew rolled through the Roxy hit parade of "Dance Away," "More Than This," a gorgeous "Avalon," "Love is the Drug" and a frenetic "Virginia Plain." The show-closing romp through Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Stick Together" -- on which multi-instrumentalist Marina Moore added washboard to the mix -- came off as kind of victory lap, with the band trading a series of brief, exuberant solos.

"Is there a heaven? I'd like to think so," Ferry asked during "In Every Dream a Home." And Saturday, he turned the Fox into that heaven, in glorious fashion.

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