Bryan Ferry - Stop Me

Cam 20/03/2007

It's a posh night inside the Brighton Dome, and I'm definitely the youngest person amongst a crowd of venerable OAPs. Immaculately dressed in what could be an M&S suit (though I doubt it) appears Byron Ferrari, the epitome of elegance, to the sound of his famous cover of Dobie Gray's 'The 'In' Crowd'. He's here to promote Dylanesque, as its title implies an album full of Bob Dylan covers. By now we all know Mr. Ferry is a master in stealing other people's melodies and making them his own, but could an album full of Zimmerman songs take a life of its own live without the cowboy hat lover present? Musically, it certainly does, with Ferry's now trademark female backing vocalists in top form and a solid and compact backing band (including a fairly young guitarist who gives the group a much needed youthful boost).

The youthful idealism portrayed in the lyrics, though, loses all meaning in this room full of middle aged yuppies and people who haven't got to worry about paying the mortgage. Let's face it, those who once used to protest are now comfortably relaxing on their 45 seats and drinking not beer, not even wine, but champagne. Which of course begs the question: Is comfort - the despicable counterpart of art and creation - humanities worst enemy? Is opulence a synonym of dullness? Tonight's lack of enthusiasm and willingness to have a bit of fun (from the audience, not Ferry, mind) seems to affirm my theory.

Back to the stage, the Dylan covers sound fascinating, although I personally think Bryan and co fail to bring anything new to the already over-covered 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' and 'All Along The Watchtower'. Some tracks though - the dynamic 'Positively 4th Street', the touching 'Make You Feel My Love' and even the sacred 'The Times They Are A-Changing' - sound fresh and (I dare to say it) even better than the original recorded versions.

The covers continue with more songs from Dylanesque (including respectable arrangements of 'Simple Twist Of Fate', 'All I Really Wanna Do' and 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues') and Ferry's very first Dylan cover -the rather brilliant version of 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'- Bryan's own songs are scarce tonight, we only get to hear and see a dynamic performance of 'Tokyo Joe', an affable 'Don't Stop the Dance' and an ineffective revival of rare album track 'This Island Earth' which don't seem to cause any kind of reaction in the audience except for the usual polite round of applause.

In a bizarrely, almost robotic response, the congregation (you can't really call it crowd) finally stand up and collectively shake their rheumatic bones to Let's Stick Together, the final song of the night, closing a conventional Tuesday night at the Dome. And so, Ferry's off to the final leg of his tour without playing any Roxy songs tonight (even though the rest of the tour BUT Brighton contained renditions of 'Love is the Drug', 'Just Like You' -recently featured on a Life On Mars episode - and 'Casanova') .

Two final conclusions:
1. I can't wait for the new Roxy album.
2. I can wait to be older.
But sadly, both things depend on time.