In Concert: Bryan Ferry, Vancouver, BC April 5, 2014

Bryan Ferry’s still got it going on, ageless and inspiring to hordes of devoted fans.

Artist: Bryan Ferry
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, BC
Date: April 5, 2014

Former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry took to the Vancouver stage on Saturday night with a new eight-piece band infused with energy and dynamic showmanship that furthered the Ferry brand of torch rock. The man might be nearing 70, but you’d never know it. And unlike other ’70s/’80s stage Lotharios, Bryan still has the looks, the elegance and the musical chops to deliver everything he did back then and more. If the Vancouver show, which kicked off a North American tour, is any indication, we can look to Ferry for continued proof that age truly is merely a number.

A word or two about the band: “killer” doesn’t suffice here. Girl drummer Cherisse Osei, who also tours with pop sensation MIKA, simply has to be both heard and seen for her powerhouse drumming that is an integral component of the highly visceral Ferry sound. As for the sax player, Jorja Chalmers made it look all too easy, with her superb reed tones alternately dominating and uniting with the guitars/keys hallmarks of the Ferry/Roxy Music sound. Then there were two backup singer/dancers. Actually, backup is the wrong word since their presence upfront at stage right was a continuous visual feast. They weren’t truly unleashed vocally though until the closing number when they delivered an explosive climax to ‘Jealous Guy’ (Bryan, you need to give these major talents a little more exposure throughout the show).

Ferry himself is still criminally handsome and resplendently dressed , with a yet-intact vocal prowess that belies his age, particularly in the upper register. His delivery of ‘More Than This’ revealed new beauty in the composition not apparent in the still marvelous studio version. As for ‘Avalon’, which has been voted the number one make-out song countless times, Ferry manages to demonstrate an even sweeter potency to the number.

He still rocks it out, though. In fact, many of the gems the band perform live remind one more of the stage power of Talking Heads than the glam ballad impression you probably gained from the last couple of Bryan Ferry records. ‘Love is the Drug’, the stinging guitar work in the cover of J. J. Cale’s ‘Same Old Blues’, the very strong ‘Oh Yeah’, and the soulful ‘Running Wild’ all exceeded this listener’s expectations of what a 68 year old rocker/balladeer could do. As for the surprising but wholly satisfying cover of the 1962 Wilbur Harrison number ‘Let’s Work Together’, this was a great reminder that Ferry is one of the best cover artists of all time. Made me dig out my vinyl copy of his classic These Foolish Things from 1974.

The Queen E. roared their tumultuous enthusiasm to every number and even danced in the aisles. Looked as though it had been a bit since they’d last danced too, but such is the power of the guy whose personal motto appears to be “divide my age in two if you want to know how old my current wife is”. If you could bottle what he’s got, you’d be – well, you’d be divorced and embroiled in physical pleasure and fiscal wildfire. And who doesn’t want that, even if only for the briefest of fantasies.

You still got it going on, Bryan. You probably always will.