Bryan Ferry delivers poignant set at Trinity College
Review: Singer provides something for everyone despite news of ex-wife Lucy Birley’s death
Bryan Ferry performing on stage at Trinity College in Dublin. Photograph: Collins
Rock stars are supposed to grow old disgracefully, but Bryan Ferry has clearly decided to shimmy smoothly into old age, performing a tasteful, well-crafted set that draws from some of the best moments of his five-decade-long career in pop. There was something for everyone at his Trinity College show on Friday night: honeyed ballads from the 1980s, classic jukebox hits from the 1970s and – for old Roxy fans like me – a handful of tunes from their first album, an undisputed art-pop masterpiece. It was all delivered with Ferry’s trademark suave, loungey style, and backed up by a band that were well able to join the dots between Roxy’s early avant-pop approach and his own highly polished later output.
There was an added dash of melancholy with the news that Ferry’s ex-wife Lucy Birley, with whom he had four children, died this week while on holiday in Ireland. Still, the show went on – Ferry is an old trooper as well as an old smoothie, and he settled into Don’t Stop the Dance, Ladytron, Out of the Blue and Oh Yeah while the clouds settled over the venue.
Ferry’s voice was always a finely balanced blend of croon and croak, but he’s smart enough to assemble a band that can distract from his shakier vocal parts with some dazzling playing. Veteran session guitarist Chris Spedding works wonders with his axe, but it’s sax player Jorja Chalmers who steals the show, blasting out the sax lines with a refreshing brashness.
Things sag a bit during the middle as Casanova, Windswept and Zamba breeze by without leaving much of an impression, but If There Is Something and Remake/Remodel allow the band to cut loose with the songs’ chops and changes.
By this stage the rain is bucketing down, but Ferry swings straight into the final, hit-laden phase of the show, following Avalon and More Than This with a rousing Love is the Drug and finishing with a flourish on Virginia Plain. A lot of time has passed since that first Roxy hit, but on this show, Ferry has remained true to himself. He encores with a stomping Let’s Stick Together, but then trumps that with a poignant version of Jealous Guy.