Music review: Bryan Ferry | The Pretenders

Bryan Ferry was restrained (mostly) and generous with the hits. Picture:  Jason Kempin/Getty Images
Bryan Ferry was restrained (mostly) and generous with the hits. Picture: Jason Kempin/Getty Images
0
Have your say

MUCH of Bryan Ferry’s solo output is redolent of the classy club, of natural sophistication, of unflashy opulence and of quiet but agonised heartache, none of which really translated to an audience in plastic ponchos who wanted to dance away at a drizzly Bandstand – even with the option of pink gin cocktails.

Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow *** | Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow ****

Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde was a real presence. Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde was a real presence. Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Fortunately, Ferry is pretty generous with the hits, including regular rummages around the Roxy Music back catalogue, so the smoochy likes of Slave to Love and Don’t Stop the Dance rubbed shoulder pads with weirdly seductive Roxy ballad Ladytron and the elegant ache of fan favourite Oh Yeah.

There was a brief decorous party interlude involving Tokyo Joe and a polite rendition of Do the Strand featuring the constrained saxophone playing of Jorja Chalmers before Ferry and band hit a defiantly downbeat stretch of material from his moody mid-80s albums.

Windswept was a model of soulful understatement, with sultry sax and burnished guitar from respected sessioneer Chris Spedding, while the soaring viola on Bete Noire added a hint of Latin fire to spice up an overlong tasteful supper club interlude in the middle of the set.

The wonderfully overwrought In Every Dream Home A Heartache and the snake-charmer saxophone of If There Is Something ushered in a more dynamic closing streak.

More Than This suffered from a not particularly sumptuous arrangement and Virginia Plain has lost its demented edge in Ferry’s distinguished older age but the dreamy caress of Avalon, the smoothly funky and feline Love is the Drug and vulnerable confessional of Jealous Guy were in good shape (even if Ferry’s whistling was not), while a closing Editions of You mustered some of that old freak-out power with Ferry conjuring on his keyboard like some kind of sonic wizard.

THIS year’s tasty Summer Nights season at Kelvingrove Bandstand kicked off in fine and typically good-natured style with an utterly assured performance by The Pretenders. Over the next two weeks, the leafy amphitheatre will be graced by grizzled veterans, Scotpop songwriters and harmonic folk favourites but not by anyone as effortlessly cool as Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, who remains a persuasive advert for the elixir of rock’n’roll.

Hynde was in exquisite voice throughout, whether extolling the virtues of personal independence on Alone, riding the rock’n’roll jangle of Back on the Chain Gang or lamenting the fate of her native Akron on My City Was Gone, though she really showed off her silky control on the ballads Kid and the stripped-back Hymn To Her, soundtracked only by the drone of organ.

“I know they’re old songs but we still like playing them,” she declared. No apology needed – the audience were delighted to greet a set of old friends, rising to their feet for the infectious chug of Don’t Get Me Wrong as Hynde demonstrated both her good humour and her professionalism in inviting a fan onstage and joining in with her creative cheesy moves without missing a beat.

Hynde is such a presence that she cannot help but overshadow her band of young bucks and even her wingman beat keeper Martin Chambers, but the group dynamic was in full effect on their Bo Diddley-inspired rockers Thumbelina and Break Up the Concrete for which the crowd preferred to boogie on the concrete.

FIONA SHEPHERD