Rychard Carrington reports on Bryan Ferry – Cambridge Corn Exchange, 10 May 2007

Artist Visiting Cambridgeshire
The lavish production befitting Ferry's oeuvre and persona was amply provided: eleven-piece backing band, fairground lighting and gaudy backdrop. Everyone played their part with consummate polish, not least Mr. Ferry himself, who sang and played with easy mastery, while looking not a day older than he did thirty years ago. The effect was of a special occasion, a real show.

What fully established the success of the evening was the quality of the numbers from the new album. The standard problem of audience unfamiliarity with new material was circumvented by the CD consisting of covers of Dylan songs which most of us have known for decades. Bob Dylan performed in the manner of Bryan Ferry - it sounds like an exercise on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: superficially their distinctive, parody-friendly styles are markedly contrasting. But the transformation really works: in fact the template was provided by A Hard Rain's a-gonna Fall back in 1973. Ferry revitalises Dylan's sacred relics by adding verve and texture at the expense of the original enigmatic intensity and beatnik rugged authenticity. In fact Dylan paralleled early Roxy Music as a fertile talent coming from nowhere and operating on obscure but compelling terms of his own creation. Ferry's versions revise Dylan, diminishing the vague cultural politics and emphasising the sheer sophisticated entertainment of a great songwriter, as his songs blended alongside vintage Ferry numbers such as The ‘In' Crowd, Tokyo Joe, When She Walks in the Room and the classic Let's Stick Together.

Those of us who've expressed disappointment at Ferry's evolution from outré avant-gardist to suave crooner felt mean-spirited in the face of this most impressive display of the superior class and good taste which have in fact been consistent throughout his career. Ferry's a jolly good fellow, indeed.

Writer: Rychard Carrington