With Bruno Mars and Bryan Ferry playing shows the same night in St. Paul, it was easy to tell which shows fans were headed for (well, other than the direction they were walking in). Glittery jacket and signs to be held up? you’re going to the Xcel :). Oh, and you probably paid way to much for your tickets….
The Palace Theatre was already still getting full when opener Judith Owen took the stage, promptly proclaimed the crowd a “rowdy bunch” and declared that she was here to sing some “deep meaningful songs” in a quite charming accent. Seated a her piano with 4 musicians supporting her she had a bit of a “Welsh Tori Amos” vibe and introduced each song with a few words along with some friendly banter. I was not familiar with her at all before the show but enjoyed her set quite a bit. Owen left stage with a great cover of “Age of Aquarius” from the musical Hair.
In the 80s Bryan Ferry wasn’t quite “cool enough” for snotty little teenage me, but over the years I have grown more and more fond of his music, both as a solo artist and with Roxy Music. For those who think of him mostly as a crooner, he reset expectations with “The Main Thing”, his opening song, an uptempo number from Roxy Music’s final album “Avalon”. His supporting cast of 9 filled even the Palace’s generous stage and he highlighted band members through the set. From the opening notes Ferry’s star quality shone through. There was an easy, effortless elegance to his set. Even at 71 years of age, Ferry voice sounded great, helped by smart song arrangements that had extended instrumental parts woven in.
I re-discovered many of Ferry’s songs that I had heard over the years but forgotten about, like “A Simple Twist of Fate” from his album of Dylan covers. Of the shows I have seen at the Palace so far, this one by far a perfect match for this great, stylish venue. Sound and lights were great and being just short from sold out, there was enough breathing room to make the journey out of the photo pit after the first three songs a bit easier. From the balcony the vibe from the stage worked even better. Ferry could have filled his set list with his biggest hits, but he chose a great mix of those and some deeper tracks from his albums. Judging by the cheers that greeted each song, the crowd shared my approval, motivating Ferry to a second encore.
On my way out the door, I broke the concert photographer rule “Don’t buy the band t-shirt – you won’t be able to wear it”. So I guess 30+ years since I heard him first, I am finally cool enough for Bryan Ferry.
Set List: The Main Thing \ Slave to Love \ Ladytron \ Out of the Blue \ Simple Twist of Fate \ A Waste Land \ Windswept \ Bête Noire \ Zamba \ Stronger Through the Years \ Like a Hurricane \ Can’t Let Go \ Remake – Remodel \ In Every Dream Home a Heartache \ If There Is Something (with Judith Owen) \ More Than This \ Avalon \ Love Is the Drug \ Virginia Plain Encore : Let’s Stick Together \ What Goes On \ Jealous Guy Encore 2: Editions of You