Reviews

 

Irish Times writers review Bryan Ferry at the Heineken Green Energy Festival in Cork and Martin Gale at the Fenton Gallery in Cork.

Bryan Ferry

Heineken Green Energy, Cork

On his beguiling new album Frantic, 57-year-old Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry offers a succinct lesson in graceful ageing. Aided by Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart, he has crafted a svelte, affecting work, which at moments recalls the majestic eloquence of Roxy's Avalon heyday.

In concert, Ferry took a blow-torch to the myth that rock 'n' roll is a young person's pursuit. Flanked by a vast retinue of players, including long-time collaborator Mick Green, he performed a punchy, languorous set, drawing heavily on highlights from Frantic.

An eerie cover of Bob Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue provided a down-tempo opening. Supplanting Dylan's bitter-sweet croak with Ferry's smoochy croon, the number could have passed muster as an obscure Roxy Music track.

Couched in a wall of clattering guitars, the twisted, accusatory Cruel suggested that Ferry, a renowned ladies' man, has nursed his share of broken hearts down the years.

On the haunting Marilyn Monroe tribute Goddess of Love, Ferry reminded us that he hasn't forgotten how to pen compelling pop odysseys. A wan-faced second cousin to Roxy Music's Over You, it tiptoed deftly between taut sincerity and blustering melodrama. Had he released it 15 years ago, it would surely have soared to number one.

Then, sensing that an air of benign indifference had come over the audience, Ferry plunged into a towering version of Roxy Music favourite Angel Eyes. If any song has earned the hoary epithet, "'timeless classic", this is it. A thunderous paean to love and loss, it raised goosebumps across the arena, confirming that Ferry is forever doomed to labour in the slipstream of accomplishments long passed.-  Ed Power




Martin Gale

Fenton Gallery, Cork

The contexts underpinning this collection of oil paintings by Martin Gale touch upon the changing demographics of rural communities, through both the history of emigration and the current influences of economic growth.

This subtext, however, is far from explicit, as Gale's paintings appear mostly to be about the experience of looking at the landscape and townlands around Kildare and Mayo, rather than the events which occur therein.

His connection with these locations is such that the resulting paintings have a resolute realism, existing almost as photographic snapshots. This is partly due to the presence of figures moving within these spaces, but also to the artist's illustrative style, which circumnavigates the imperfections that naturalism would bring.

The artist is drawn to scenes that establish a strong spatial aspect in relation to a particular focal point or activity - usually a grouping of people or animals. Such arrangements are an object lesson in pictorial arrangement - balancing scale, distance, perspective, and detail.

As a consequence, Gale's work is resolute in its ambition, suggesting that a carefully planned vision is in place from the outset, with little or no scope for overworking or changes of direction.

This is evidenced through carefully modulated paint application and a clinical approach to colour that shies away from the ambiguities or distortions that would have, for instance, fuelled the Impressionist movement.

That said, there remains an honest craft and integrity that undoubtedly will have broad public appeal.-

Mark Ewart

Runs until 19th June