Sounds NOVEMBER 18, 1972 - by Steve Peacock


Roxy Music, Manchester

Ii was quite a relief to find a full hall when I got to the Manchester Hardrock on Thursday night. In fact it was quite a relief to find the Hardrock at all after a long grind up the M1/M6 and through the suburbs of Manchester in the pouring rain - but that's the road for you. Last time I was at the Hardrock there weren't many people there at all, and the atmosphere was a little flat and desultory; but this time there was energy in the air - half the hall full of people in seats, quiet but expectant, the other half jammed with people, squatting on the floor, rather rowdier and screaming for Eno.

It's easy to forget how important an audience is to how a band performs - especially when you trek round to a lot of gigs in the role of reviewer. People expect that by tradition you are impartial and objective, but it's virtually impossible to take account of the music in isolation of a gig, and I'm sure if Roxy had been able to play in exactly the same way to a smaller and less responsive audience I wouldn't have enjoyed them half as much. Of course, they wouldn't have played the same way, so there's that to take into account too. But anyway, what I'm trying to say was that it was good to find the Hardrock determined to enjoy its night out, and to find Roxy willing and able to supply what they wanted.

I got there just ahead of the band, milled around for a while until the strains of their introduction music, which is a beautiful piece to use, lured me into the concert arena. They sound better every time I hear them, and as I'm sure I've said before, a few months on the road has given them a sureness and tightness of feel that has changed them from a rather loose bunch of musicians with a lot of ideas, into an imaginative band. The songs now come over much stronger than they do on. The album, and stronger than on other gigs I've seen.

And they're looking good too - well groomed, expensively dressed, and lavishly madeup, they have a sense of style that transcends the tatty, cheapskate glamour so many of their contemporaries have adopted. Bryan Ferry takes one end of the stage dark colours, wide shoulders, and traditional rock and roller's mannerisms - facing outwards over his keyboards and occasionally dancing out into the centre of the stage. The other side belongs to Eno and his table of devices - he looks brighter, with streaked blonde hair, wide braces, a hunched stance, and a rather seedier image. The band are between them both in position and appearance.

The PA couldn't quite cope that night - it had a lack of definition that in places gave your imagination more work than your ears - and the effect of the lighting seemed to be a little low-key, but there was a lot to enjoy. The numbers were familiar things like Would You Believe?, Ladytron, 2 H.B., If There Is Something, The Bob and Sea Breezes - and they know what they're doing as far as running orders are concerned. Re-Make/Re-Model ended the set, with everyone getting a little blow in the stop-time breaks, but they hadn't done Virginia Plain by then, so an encore was inevitable. Bryan's mock surprise was a nice touch; but they would have got called back anyway.