Roxy Music & St. Vincent – The Mann Center – Philadelphia (A PopEntertainment.com Concert Review)
Roxy Music – TD Pavilion at The Mann – Philadelphia, PA – September 15, 2022
“It was fun for a while…”
Roxy Music touched down in Philadelphia for their first tour in 11 years, celebrating the band’s 50th Anniversary in their own inimitable style.
Touring for the first time since getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the legendary band, who arguably were one of the architects of the 80s new wave movement, made it feel like they had not been apart for a moment, even though they have only toured together twice since the band broke up after touring for their last studio album Avalon in 1982. (The group members did a bit of recording during their first reunion in 2007, but none of those songs have ever been officially released.)
This was the fourth show in a ten-date trek across the US (with one show in Canada). Four of the members of Roxy’s classic lineup were present and accounted for – singer and keyboardist Bryan Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera, saxophonist Andy Mackay and drummer Paul Thompson. (Original guitarist Brian Eno left the band after their third album to become a solo artist and producer, although he is still close with the band and did contribute to their 2007 reunion. Eno was replaced by Eddie Jobson for the rest of the band’s original run.)
While the band was always bigger in their native Europe than in the US – they only had one top forty hit single here, the dance classic “Love is the Drug” in 1975 – their influence was massive. And over the years some of their other songs have become well known standards even if they weren’t exactly huge hits at the time of their release, like “Dance Away,” “Oh Yeah,” “Avalon” and “More Than This” – all of which were played.
The band veered greatly over their decade-long recording history from the futuristic space glam rock of the early days (much of that was Eno’s influence) to the soulful sophistication of the later works when Ferry had taken the reins. In the anniversary concert, while they did cover all aspects of the Roxy songbook, the tendency was to cover the later stuff. In fact, some of the quirkier early singles like “Pyjamarama” and “Virginia Plain” were overlooked here in favor of the smoother and more traditionally tuneful Roxy tracks.
Which is not to say that the band played it safe. In fact, they opened up with a churning version of “Re-Make/Re-Model” which played well into the band’s more experimental art school roots. (Ferry was teaching at an art school when he formed the band.)
In fact that artistry was on full display with the stage setup, with three huge parallel video screens stringing together a series of visuals and swirling colors and shapes which almost even distracted from the people on the stage. However, it should be no surprise that these art school vets know how to make a visual impression.
However, the music was what really drove the impressions. Ferry is still a smart and stylish (he still dresses to kill) front man and his vocals, if not quite as nuanced as in his prime, still stun. He also was more than happy to share the spotlight. Manzanera’s guitar solo in “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” was about to light the night on fire. That song was followed up by the sweet instrumental “Tara,” which highlighted Mackay’s sensitive sax playing. Also, beyond the original members, Roxy brought on a whole battery of touring musicians, additional guitarists, keyboard players, brass players, drummers a bassist and backing vocalists.
The set ran through band favorites and album tracks. From the gorgeous bossa nova sway of the nostalgic singles “Oh Yeah” and “Dance Away” to the mysticism of if there is something to the rushing tunefulness of “Editions of You,” the songs flowed easily from one to another. Then towards the end the hits came out, with the throbbing intensity of “Same Old Scene” to the sweet romantic longing of “More Than This” and the drop-dead gorgeous romanticism of “Avalon” and the still playful “Love Is the Drug.”
Roxy’s set closed out with an encore that started with the purposely ridiculous lyrics of the band’s tongue-in-cheek early dance anthem “Do the Strand.” (“Rhododendron is a nice flower… but it can’t beat Strand power.”) Then Ferry and the band slowed things down for their gorgeous cover of the John Lennon album track “Jealous Guy” – which they had originally recorded soon after the former Beatle was shot down outside his exclusive New York City apartment house in late 1980.
Opening act St. Vincent made a refreshing counterpoint to Roxy Music, a singer who was obviously inspired by the band’s musical complexity but bringing her own cheeky modern counterpoint to the stage. She did a swift and adventurous run through of some of her faves, including “Digital Witness,” “Los Ageless,” “Fast Slow Disco,” “New York” and “Pay Your Way in Pain.”
And then, at 11:00 – way too soon – it was all over. But as the song says, it was fun for a while…, like a dream in the night. Will Roxy Music ever play in the US again after this tour? There’s no way of knowing. So I’m glad I got to experience it while I could. Right now, there’s nothing more than this.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 18, 2022.
Photos by Jim Rinaldi © 2022. All rights reserved.