Last month I went to see Bryan Ferry perform at Birmingham Symphony Hall..it was the first time I'd seen him perform live and also my first visit to Symphony Hall. I was super excited and wanted to make a night of it, so booked a hotel room at NiteNite, just 500 yards from Symphony Hall. The hotel room was an absolute bargain and really unusual..more about that later. but back to Symphony Hall. It's said to be architecturally and acoustically one of the best venues in the world and is home to City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
As it's only a small venue (2,300 or so seats) I booked my ticket months in advance to get a decent seat. Even so, I had limited choice as the venue sold out FAST as Ferry concerts generally do sell out months in advance of the dates. I had a 2nd tier seat and good view of the stage, but a little too far for my liking, and it cost £60! Not cheap. But for a small venue, to be expected I guess.
Bryan Ferry was performing a mixture of Roxy Music work and his own work spanning his 40 year career, including his new Jazz interpretations of Roxy classics. I feared this might be the last chance to see this iconic singer and performer live, as he's getting on now at 67 and the nature of the promotion and gigs suggested it may be a farewell mini-tour of the UK before he retires from live performing.. saying that, I could be wrong! Look at the Rolling Stones, still rocking in their 70's and even Debbie Harry and Blondie, also past 70 and still putting on good shows.
Although I'm a huge Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry fan, he did look a bit tired and worn out I have to say. I think he did too many shows too close together, as he was doing show after show all Nov and for someone who hadn't toured for years and at 67, it may have been too much.
Nevertheless, it was a great experience to see the great singer and performer live in person. There was a long delay before he came on stage which seemed like forever and helped build a sense of excited anticipation..the band were playing but Ferry was nowhere in sight. Then he strolled on with a big smile and wave and stood centre stage. He was dressed immaculately as always, in a patterned silk jacket and shiny black trousers. Mid-show he changed his outfit and came on with a Mohair suit and huge black wool scarf..he was must have been hot under those lights!
I feared he might do more instrumental Jazz stuff (not my cup of tea) and less singing, but he got the balance right. They only did a couple of Jazz numbers while he rested and drank water.
Although he did poll fans on what songs they wanted to hear, his choice of songs would not have been my choosing. I think he neglected all his best solo works.. but he did do "Song for a Siren" (my favourite off his latest album), and the obligatory Roxy version of "Jealous Guy", which went down a storm with the fans. That was the highlight of the show for me. He really sang it well as always. At one part of the show he even sat at the keyboard and played a little swaying his head from side to side, as he does!
After the last song played out, he introduced the band members one by one. He bowed, then a big smile, a quick wave and he was gone. No encores, no speeches.
I wanted to film some of the performance but was very nervous about taking cameras into the venue. I needn't have been. Although Symphony Hall states its policy is no cameras or recording equipment of any kind permitted on premises, lots of people had cameras and phones for filming and taking photos. The staff were dotted around but took no notice, so seeing that I took the opportunity to film some clips of the performance myself. I was a bit too far away though to get any decent close up footage of Bryan, but nevertheless the sound is ok so I've uploaded what clips I have on YouTube for any fans interested..
Jealous Guy, performed by Bryan Ferry, Birmimgham 19th November 2013
I was very glad of having my hotel room after the show to stroll back to, rather than face the 20 odd mile ride home at 10:30pm. If anyone reading this is going to Symphony Hall, do yourself a favour and check out NiteNite, for £28 a room you can't go wrong. It's a lovely modern place with unique "cabin style" rooms and so conveniently located. Just 500 yards from Symphony Hall as I said, and about 5-10 min walk from New Street station.
Posted on 29 December 2013
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