Text and all photos by Julie Finley
Playhouse Square, Cleveland OH
October 10, 2011
So, I am standing on the street in Clevehole, waiting for the bus after work. I look across the street, and see demolition and one condemned building still standing (because the owners won’t sell; they think their condemnation is a gold-mine . . . WRONG!). I look kitty-corner, I see two thugs arguing. I look at the other corner, I see constant construction that will probably run out of money before it’s complete. Three of the four sidewalks are closed. Some sketchy guy is eyeballing me. I am grinding my teeth. I see some rusty, piece-of-shit Chevy Cavalier with a booming system cut off three lanes of traffic, and one jaywalker playing virtual Frogger in the midst of traffic.
I think to myself, “This is what Bryan Ferry is gonna see when his tour bus pulls into downtown Cleveland!” I am filled with disgust! Bryan Ferry IS TOO GOOD FOR THIS BULLSHIT . . . and frankly, SO AM I!
So with that all said, I can’t believe Bryan Ferry actually played a show—in Cleveland—and I am really grateful that he did! I hadn’t been to a concert in over a year (and that show was in NYC)! No one plays this dump anymore, and I can totally understand why: because it sucks!
Fortunately, Bryan Ferry does NOT suck!
In fact, being at his show gave me a sense of stepping outside of the putrid filth I have to see on a daily basis. It was so nice to be witnessing something CLASSY going on in the city I live in, and CLASSY is an understatement in regards to Mr. Ferry.
I found out about this show probably five months ahead of time. I bought the tickets in the pre-sale as there was no way I was going to miss this! I never thought I’d ever see Bryan Ferry perform live, and if he did tour the USAnus, that it would NYC or L.A., and that’s it! Granted his tour wasn’t very long, but he gave his fans a very fair shot at attending at least one of his shows.
So, onto the show itself. I only caught the last song of the opening act, and honestly, I couldn’t give a shit. I wasn’t there to see them. I glanced around the audience, and saw many women wearing sequins and pearls and thought, “Why don’t I ever seen this side of Monaco, typically?” I know why: because much of the audience traveled to see this show! A typical Cleveholer didn’t even know this show was happening, too busy wasting their lives on the Browns. Their loss (as usual)!
I was told by the woman who delivered my photo pass that he would start at 8:45 p.m., and he did! Nice and punctual, which is AWESOME since it was a Monday night, and I had to get up and go to work in the morning! I like it when concerts start and end in sync with the schedule of what a typical member of the working class has . . . as far as free time goes (which is scarce).
He started the show with Roxy Music’s “The Main Thing.” Great choice! He looks GREAT, and sounds even better! His band (which was rather extensive) were absolutely flawless musicians! Stage aesthetics = utmost sophistication. Everything was definitely well thought-out, well-rehearsed, and done with a perfectionist’s touch! I was truly digging it! I must say, the lady saxophonist had the nicest legs I had ever seen!
Bryan, all smiles and poise, goes into “I Put a Spell on You” (such irony since that was penned by Clevehole’s own, Screaming Jay Hawkins). Lots of middle-aged and older women (as well as dapper gay men) were getting hot and bothered by Bryan (I was wondering if panties were going to be flung), but Bryan knows he has straight male fans, too, and he knows what they like (and provides them with something delicious to look at, as well!). You could taste the sweetness in the air, and before I knew it, my ears distinctly picked up one of Bryan’s most treasured songs, “Slave to Love.” I observed projected images of beautiful women on the screens . . . I saw his statuesque dancers . . . A SLAVE TO LOVE INDEED!
Lots of sensory overload going on in my head that night, giving me the feeling of a much needed displacement from the ugliness of Clevehole that I would have to face as soon as the show was over. I cannot recall everything that I witnessed that night, although two major highlights (for me at least) were hearing Roxy Music’s “Casanova” and “Bittersweet”—those were truly unexpected!
Another thing I’d like to note is that Bryan clearly admires the musicians he works with. He gave many of them “the floor,” so to speak. I thought that was really cool, actually. Lots of articulate guitar solos by adept hands! Bryan was also keeping himself busy (not just with his vocals) but on the keys as well as harmonica. He gave special nods to Bob Dylan more than once.
I must say, Bryan has made listening to Dylan songs palatable (for me at least)! Dylan is a great songwriter, but a horrible vocalist, so hearing those same songs with Bryan’s smooth-as-silk interpretations allows me a better appreciation. He also didn’t do much off of his new (and absolutely FANTASTIC) album called Olympia. A lot of musicians, when promoting a new album, play almost the entire thing even when the fans don’t want to hear it (because they’re not that familiar with it yet). Bryan is clearly no dummy; his fans had been waiting for a long time to see him, so he gave them a variety of what they wanted to hear, and what he wanted to perform (which he still clearly took joy in performing).
There was a brief intermission between sets . . . some fans were poo-pooing on that! I thought it was a good idea, as some of us have to use the restroom and don’t wanna miss anything, plus . . . Bryan is in his mid-sixties! The guy needed a break! Being on stage all night isn’t as easy the older people get, although I must say, Bryan looks incredible for his age! I think he’s more handsome now than ever!
After the intermission, the show got a bit more playful. We were graced with the exquisite “Avalon” as well as “Love is the Drug.” The dancers joined the suave Bryan center-stage. I swear, only Bryan could do a show wherein scantily clad women shaking their meat to the beat, would add even more class to an already refined gathering! He ended the set with the always fun, “Let’s Stick Together” but did come back out for one encore, which consisted of more interpretive nods to his faves: “Jealous Guy” by John Lennon and “Hold On, I’m Comin'” by Sam & Dave.
The show ended before 11 p.m. Thank you Bryan for not only giving us your all, but for being considerate to your audience’s schedule!
The Main Thing
I Put a Spell on You
Slave to Love
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
If There Is Something
Make You Feel My Love
Boys and Girls
Like a Hurricane
You Can Dance
Reason or Rhyme
My Only Love
Love Is the Drug
All Along the Watchtower
Let’s Stick Together
Hold On, I’m Comin’
Click on the thumbnails below to see each image.