New Musical Express APRIL 7, 1973 - by Tony Tyler


There are some who say that Roxy Music were a hype from the start; that they're an ordinary collection of minor musicians who succeeded in blinding all but the chosen few as to the real degree of talent they possess; that behind the gaudy curtain of glitz and ethereal effect, Roxy are nought but a publisher's manufacture, a pipedream superimposed on a groggy collective consciousness by malign intent. Balderdash, my friends.

I was at the Rainbow on Saturday night and what I saw was one of the finest concerts it's been my privilege to attend. Roxy were superb: the songs have improved, the sound system was magnificent, the act has been tightened up to an enormous degree, and the tentative steps taken a year ago have now fulfilled all promise and blossomed into something truly excellent.

But let's begin at the beginning. Roxy's first of two nights at the Rainbow was marked by the attendance of a vast crowd, composed of straight Rainbowmen, eager disciples, camp followers, screaming fags and, of course, the Roxettes - a class of citizen who dress like Bryan Ferry (or, more often, like Eno) and whose suave attention to oiled quiffs and sharp clothing is marred only by a sapphistic gleam in the eye.

First on was Lloyd Watson. I've seen his act several times in the past year and each time I've drawn the same conclusion - that he's a monstrously fine slide guitarist, totally dedicated and professional, whose act simply cries out for a bassist and a drummer. (Even a very small bassist and drummer would do.) Fronting such a band, Watson could be quite awesome; as it is, his act requires too much concentration for enjoyment's sake.

Next were Sharks about whom I've heard much - all of it complimentary. I much regret to differ. I found them tedious, jagged, far too loud and - Snips' obvious hard work and Andy Fraser's raunchy bass-playing apart - very much of a sub-standard band. Chris Spedding seems too incomplete a player to carry the main instrumental load, and he moves stiffly, plays inadequately, and (according to the lad sitting next to me) was exceeded in his awfulness only by the drummer who bashed tastelessly throughout the set. Sharks? Precocious anchovies, more like.

Next came a helluva long wait. Then a slinky '50s blond oiled onto the stage, vamped the audience, twitched her torso, and finished by introducing "for your pleasure" Roxy Music. On came the group. A wealth of info could be devoted to Roxy's couture; one could conjecture endlessly on the fine appearance the silks, satins and feathers that adorned their bodies made; it would be futile. The important thing was the music, and Roxy slugged it to us right away with Do The Strand from the new album. Instantly it was obvious that the hesitant stage act of earlier gigs has gone forever. They've now got a far more concise idea and Bryan Ferry has become what he should always have been: a genuine, rock solid anchor man darting like a cat between keyboards, lead mike and guitar. Eno, looking like a Jewish mermaid, swished and whirred his VCS3 and battery of tapes. Phil Manzanera swung his Gibson Thunderbird with authority, Paul Thompson hammered his kit, stand-in bassist John Porter (though looking a little lost) filled in admirably and Andy Mackay on saxes and oboe clowned, sported, posed, minced and generally played a storm. Great stuff.

The set featured mixtures from old and new - with the old winning hands down - and a masterly Editions Of You must have been the high point of the set. It faded, via Mackay's intro into Ladytron, the crowd surged forward, burying your dedicated reviewers, and then it was sheer clapperama till the finish. Re-Make/Re-Model (complete with epic Manzanera solo), brought the house down and the audience then refused to part with the group until a final excellent encore of Virginia Plain.