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LIVE: BRYAN FERRY with I’m Talking, The Models and Stephen Cumming – Perth, 21 Feb, 2019

| 23 February 2019 | Reply

LIVE: BRYAN FERRY with I’m Talking, The Models and Stephen Cumming – Perth, 21 Feb, 2019
King’s Park, Perth – A Day On The Green
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Photography by Damien Crocker

If you’ve lived under a rock for the past five decades, you may not realise one of the fundamental laws of the universe: Bryan Ferry is cooler, smoother and suaver than the rest of us. He is, to be more accurate, the Alpha Cool Guy, the Apex of Suave, always has been – even when wearing gaudy gawd-knows what outfits in Roxy Music’s earliest art-rock film clips.

Those outfits only lasted for a blink of an eye before Ferry came to epitomise besuited elegance, and striding effortlessly onto the Perth stage for the third date of his World Tour he’s sporting a stylish open-necked white shirt under a collar-upturned suit jacket and his devilish good looks intact even at 73.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… the evening opened with Stephen Cummings, a late substitute following Died Pretty’s Ron Peno’s diagnosis with cancer. Cummings entertained ardent fans with a smattering of tracks from across his extensive career and his just-released twentieth solo album, accompanied by a guitarist introduced only as Cameron, and occasionally a sparse drum machine keeping time. Raymond Chandler & Edward Hopper and Love Is Mighty Close To You showcased his songwriting genius, while a few glasses of red wine and a couple of really bad jokes made Cummings strangely reminiscent of Sir Les Patterson, before closing with The Sports’ classic Who Listens To The Radio.

The Models’ Sean Kelly is in a far better frame of mind than the last time they graced the Kings Park stage in 2017, supporting Simple Minds. Almost jovial, though no less quirky than ever, Kelly and Rockwiz mainstay Mark Ferry steer the band through The Model, Happy Birthday IBM, Unhappy and perfectly marry their industro-art-rock beginnings with their latter pop hit phase (to the delight of dancers around the park) through Big On Love, Outta Mind Outta Sight and I Hear Motion.

 

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The high energy dance pop of I’m Talking is a wild card coup for A Day On The Green, and Perth was treated to the band’s first show in a remarkable thirty years. Led again by the incredible vocals of Kate Ceberano and Zan Abeyratne – sporting matching-not-matching khaki fatigues – with most of the original line-up along for the fun. Ceberano especially is loving the well-choreographed dance moves and her voice is as stunning as always, more-fun-than-expected hour including Do You Wanna Be, Holy Word, Love Don’t Live Here Any More, Lead The Way before climaxing with the funky Disaster and irrepressible biggest hit, Trust Me.

A master of the understated rock song, sultry, schmoove and nuanced songwriting and impossibly dapper delivery, Bryan Ferry is the James Bond of rock and roll singers, and he doesn’t disappoint with a set list full of hits and deeper cuts that draws almost equally from his Roxy Music and solo catalogues.

His secret lies in mirroring his own dapper and suave delivery with the sophisticated interplay between ultra-tasteful sax and guitar, driving rhythms and sublime melody. No-one does it like Ferry does, and at 73 we can forgive him a reduced vocal range, perhaps due to flying in directly from two South African shows last week. The vocals started to fade halfway through the show and Ferry kept onstage chatter to a minimum, letting the divine music do the talking, but by the encore his voice was more throaty whisper than mellifluously honeyed purr.

Long-time foil Chris Spedding on guitar (what a thrill it would have been if they’d tackled his ‘70s hit Motorbikin’, but twas not to be) provides six-string punctuation more than riffs. The likes of Slave To Love, Don’t Stop The Dance, Oh Yeah, Bete Noire, In Every Dream Home A Heartache, Re-Make/Re-Model, More Than This and more – all delivered on a similarly tastefully understated stage primarily in black and white, with primary coloured lighting providing superb punctuation – are all highlights.

At his best one can close one’s eyes (if willing to tear one’s eyes from the rakishly charismatic singer) and drift away, carried on the wind by the gorgeous songs and transcendent delivery, giving us a few priceless moments of swaying to tingles and shivers through the simple power of music.

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The six-piece band boasts stunning Pink Floyd-precision, as are the two backing vocalists, especially multi-sax player Jorja Chalmers and singer Alicia Gordon, who provide a magical duet through Avalon.

Love Is The Drug is the tipping point for many to get up and get dancing, and the to-die-for set-list continues to its natural conclusion with a playful Virginia Plain and magical Jealous Guy, before an encore of Let’s Stick Together, featuring show-stoppingly superb centre-stage guitar and sax solos from Spedding and Chalmers and a wailing harmonica from Ferry himself.

I can’t pretend to admire the apparent use of backing tapes at a few key moments, but Ferry and his band delivered an iconic set-list and a wonderfully emotional night, more than good enough to forgive almost anything.

Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

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