INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Melody Maker OCTOBER 27, 1973 - by Steve Lake
ROXY'S SONG FOR EUROPE
If you'd told the freakiest teenagers of Birmingham a year ago that they'd soon be groovin' to a Charles Aznavour-styled ballad, you'd doubtless have met with cynical and bewildered derision. Nonetheless, that's what happened at that city's Town Hall last Sunday when Roxy Music stormed in for a brief but memorable appearance. The piece in question was Andy Mackay's number A Song For Europe, an extract from Roxy's forthcoming album.
It was unfortunate, however, that the sound system didn't do justice to the band's new repertoire which obviously includes future classics and stage favourites. Maybe one reason for the curious acoustics was that the band hasn't yet mastered their new electronics set up. Synthesizer duties are now split three ways, following the departure of Brian Eno, with Phil Manzanera and Andy using foot pedal-controlled synthesizers and new recruit and multi-instrumentalist Eddie Jobson twiddling the dials on the VCS3. This gives any of the three the ability to change the sound drastically, and the unlucky sound-mix man is left struggling to regain a sensible balance.
But for all the aural accidents, the new Roxy convinced that they can truly cut it as a tight rock band, and on a purely musical basis they're better than ever. Jobson proves a valuable addition placing Calesque violin lines to revamp old numbers like Chance Meeting, soaring about and around Phil Manzanera's finely controlled feedback. Paul Thompson was as punchy, funky and original as ever and Mackay soloed well on soprano sax, and added grumbling baritone comments to bass man Sal Maida looking appropriately emaciated and rock-starish but his playing was often inaudible.
But as far as the crowd was concerned, it was still Bryan Ferry's show, and they swooned as he crooned through Street Life, Mother Of Pearl (from the new album) and Virginia Plain, a leering sneering cocktail waiter figure in white jacket black tie, rings too. The closer, Psalm, was a fascinating oddity, starting very hymnal and building to a New Orleans feel with Ferry's vibrato executing dramatic leaps before he switched to chromatic harmonica, actually playing in the right key (more than can be said for his blues harp wailing in Grey Lagoon). The mob wanted more, of course, and got it. Do The Strand was very fierce and pounding. Great music, but those gremlins in the equipment need silencing.