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Review: Bryan Ferry at The Sage Gateshead

Overheard on the way out of the Sage on Sunday night: "I think I'll put my bus pass back in the drawer. Fantastic!"

****
Bryan Ferry performs at The Sage Gateshead
Bryan Ferry performs at The Sage Gateshead

Overheard on the way out of the Sage on Sunday night: "I think I'll put my bus pass back in the drawer. Fantastic!"

Yes, it was a mature audience that packed Hall One for this second of Bryan Ferry’s two weekend gigs.

That’s not so surprising when you consider that pop’s personification of suave is now 68 and drawing on the fruits of more than four decades in music. Can it really be 41 years since Virginia Plain?

Mature, yes. But also frisky. A handful of women were soon on their feet, reverting to youthful disco days like buoys in a gentle swell.

After the interval it turned choppy. Love Is The Drug and Street Life had nearly everyone on their feet. From my perch above the stage, I could see those for whom infatuation with this man and his music long outlived teenage spots. Love is, indeed, the drug.

The gig was opened by The Bryan Ferry Orchestra and some of the jazzed up numbers from last year’s The Jazz Age album. Brilliant musicianship all round. Some of these you’ll have heard if you saw Baz Luhrman’s film of The Great Gatsby.

 

On stage the jazzers and rockers were side by side – besuited jazz drummer alongside wild-haired female demon giving her kit seven bells – reflecting the way Ferry has straddled both genres. Ultimately it came together in an exhilarating stew of sound.

At the centre of it was Ferry himself, slim as a rake. Ever the lounge lizard, he swapped patterned smoking jacket for natty blue suit at half time.

He sang, he shook a leg to tantalise the ladies and occasionally he took to the harmonica like a man possessed as an array of small screens flashed Roxy iconography.

The one-time lad from Washington didn’t say much but he did remember pressing his nose against “Windows in the arcade”, marvelling at the musical treasures inside the Newcastle music shop.

Now some of those treasures are his. Few will forget such a full-blooded gig, perfect antidote to worries about the winter fuel payment.

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