Pick a synonym for the word “suave,” and it aptly describes Bryan Ferry. Still.
Friday night, the former leader of the British rock band Roxy Music brought a fine-tuned nine-piece ensemble to the Uptown Theater and before a crowd of more than 1,500 delivered with much pomp and polish about 110 minutes of hits and favorites from his solo and Roxy Music catalogs.
Ferry, 71, still cuts a debonair form. He took the stage dressed in a black suit and a dark shirt, which accentuated the silver in his thick mop of hair. He spent several songs behind a keyboard, accompanying his band. The rest of the night, he stood at his microphone stand, swaying or bobbing gently, waving his left hand slowly to the song’s rhythm.
His voice has sustained its velvety timbre, though at times it was a bit too immersed in the hefty sounds of his band. But he had no trouble vocally navigating a set list that included songs he recorded in his mid-20s, like “Virginia Plain,” the outstanding track from the inaugural “Roxy Music” album, and “Love is the Drug,” two of several highlights Friday night.
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Tracks from Roxy’s “Avalon” album, now 35 years old, aroused the loudest ovations. (It’s Roxy’s only platinum album in the United States.) He opened with one of its tracks, the throbbing, soulful “The Main Thing,” and came back to the album later, rendering faithful versions of three of its stellar tracks: the title track, “Take a Chance With Me” and “More Than This.”
Roxy’s and Ferry’s solo music taps into various genres: soul, R&B, funk, glam, folk and British rock and his stellar band and two background singers shifted seamlessly from one to the other. He gave them plenty of spotlight, none more conspicuously than saxophonist Jorja Chalmers, who took center stage repeatedly to unleash solos on a variety of saxophones.
British session ace Chris Spedding delivered a memorable electric-guitar lead on the dashing reworking of Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane,” and the entire band shone on the instrumental interlude “Tara,” another “Avalon” track, which included some lovely violin embroidery from Marina Moore.
Other highlights: “If There is Something,” another “Roxy Music” track (which David Bowie covered with Tin Machine in 1991); the track to Ferry’s “Bête Noir” album; “Slave to Love,” another standout solo track; the mournful “Oh Yeah,” a rapturous Roxy ballad about lost love; and the well-known cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.”
After Ferry and the band expressed some sincere gratitude, including a round of applause, for its appreciative audience, they closed with “Editions of You,” a punk-ish, glammy Roxy romp from 1973 that Ferry handled with aplomb, as if he were still a suave 20-something rock star with a long, bright future ahead of him.