I’m not sure how many in the crowd knew Bryan Ferry had released an album in 2014. I’m not sure how many knew the artist wasn’t touring behind new material. I’m not sure Ferry knew he had released an album in 2014, nor did he seem aware that he offered no new material. Last night at the Seminole Hard Rock Life, the grey-haired high romantic strolled center stage as if he were on a balcony overlooking the Arno, offering a set list of Roxy Music and solo highlights in better shape than Ferry himself, for none of these songs came close to being hits in America and thus have been in no danger of overplay. He did offer surprises: when was the last time you heard the title track from 1987’s forgotten Bête Noire and – get this – the same album’s “Zamba” live, let alone back to back? The answer: never.
Preceding them he inserted Manifesto‘s “Stronger Through the Years” and Country Life‘s “Out of the Blue” – all splendid, all benefitting from Marina Moore’s violin and viola and Chris Spedding’s twangy licks (Luther Vandross and Chic stalwart Fonzi Thornton returns as a backing singer). Elsewhere he lavished his diminishing range on “More Than This” (dull) and “If There is Something” (yay!) and succumbed to that regrettable habit whereby aging rock acts play abridged versions of their perennials – the point of “Re-Make/Re-Model” is to keep remaking and re-modeling before our eyes. But I forgive him because he played “Zamba,” “Bête Noire,” and, best, “Windswept,” a track that sounds increasingly like his epitaph. He can see nothing, he can hear nothing – is he a feeling or a state of mind?