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Bryan Ferry in South Africa

Ferry’s Fantastic Flair Wows SA Audiences!

by Louw Mulder

A live concert with a well-known act is an experience very seldom to be forgotten. But a concert where the artist has the ability to take you through a mosaic of memories, is customarily more memorable, mainly because of nostalgic value, making the experience priceless. This was once again done by Big Concerts bringing Bryan Ferry to South African Stages. Not only once, but twice in one night, as both the supporting act and Ferry himself, transported the whole Sun Arena in Pretoria, back to youth.

Former Springbok Nude Girls’ lead singer, dating back to the late 1990’s, Arno Carstens, was the perfect choice to open for Ferry. Featuring a two-piece band, his set list comprised hits from then, like Blue Eyes, as well as his solo hit, Another Universe. What was remarkable, was the inclusion of an Afrikaans track too. Carstens was accompanied by his session drummer Werner von Walt and David Watkyns on the keyboard, also doubled-up on the trumpet, once again giving that hint of the Nude Girls’ sound.

When Bryan Ferry entered the stage, the roar of a packed Sun Arena, was evident to the impact, yet massive popularity this artist has sustained with his South African audience, over the years. After taking to the world music scene as part of the band Roxy Music in 1970 with their first hit, Virginia Plain, this now 73 year old singer- songwriter, established a unique repertoire during his solo career, which was the basis of his programme during the show in Pretoria.

His voice has been described as an elegant, seductive croon. With a distinctive, sartorial style, Ferry has influenced a whole generation of artists, through his refined music, and live appearances. Now, after a lengthy 19 year hiatus from South African stages, this time-honoured, English-born lead vocalist was back on an SA Stage. For his age, Ferry’s presentation of his enduring classics, sounded remarkably close to what was recorded on vinyl all those decades ago. Because of this, I do think that together with his overwhelming and sophisticated glam-rock style, Ferry delivered a magical, and memorable concert, everyone holds dear.

With unforgettable classics such as Slave to Love, Oh Yeah and More Than This, to name but a few, deeply entrenched in the gathering audience’s psyche, together with the sheer anticipation of this long awaited live performance, created a tangible atmosphere with each familiar lyric.

I thought the production was minimalistic, with no special effects with LED screens or other stage- and set designs. Together with his live band, the scene for each song was set by only his legendary voice, the acquaintance with each song, and very clever lighting design, which varies for each track. I would say that this approach seemed to be very effective, taking nothing away from the music itself, which was in essence the main attraction this legendary artist catered for.

Together with the flash-backs linked to each song, a different reminiscing tale to each member of the audience, Ferry’s production added to the enchanted recreation of the Good old Days, with a variety of instruments and musicians, even getting behind the piano himself. From saxophonists, oboists, even to a very clever solo of the bassist during his programme, each recollection was coloured in, in true Ferry- style, just like that memory was intended so many years ago.

But More than This, we know that It was Fun for a While, and while we as Ferry’s fans will continue listening to this Band, playing on the Radio, with the Rhythm of Rhyming Guitars, Drowning the Sound of my Tears, we can now see him saying through his music: “Even Though your world is changing, I will be the same…”

Big Concerts delivered Another, well presented Big Concert Experience, which brought the magic of music home, proving that music is timeless…

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