BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
To some he’s a poseur, to others, rock’s foremost provocateur. A little bit Bowie, a little bit Bing, he’s the ultimate showman, with plenty of flash and finesse added in. Forty years after co-founding Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry retains that iconic image — one that’s suave, sophisticated, and seductive, underscored by a largess that makes him one of a kind.
The records have always gone straight to that core, but they’ve also faltered when allowing that stereotypical image to trounce that dapper persona. Leave it, then, to Live In Lyon to restore the mystique. Featuring more than two hours of Ferry’s performance with a crack band in tow — one that includes veteran musicians like guitarist Neil Hubbard and drummer Andy Newmark, along with Ferry’s drummer son Tara, young ace guitarist Oliver Thompson, multi-instrumentalist Jorja Chalmers, and a quartet of back-up singers and a pair of dancers — it spotlights the man at his singular best, imbued with his brooding charisma. Shot on site at an ancient Roman amphitheater during his headline performance at France’s Nuits de Fourviere Festival, it finds Ferry digging deep into his catalogue, from early Roxy standards such as “If There Is Something,” to a choice variety of his signature covers, “Jealous Guy” and “Make You Feel My Love” among them. It’s one class act, courtesy of a set that’s mesmerising from start to finish. Not surprisingly then, Ferry’s interpretations of “All Along the Watchtower,” “Like a Hurricane and “Hold On I’m Coming” threaten to eclipse the originals.
As if that performance was not enough, Live in Lyon ups the ante by including a documentary on the making of Ferry’s last studio album, Olympia, as well. No cursory filler here; rather, the film — directed by Ferry’s other son Isaac — gives ample screen time to Ferry’s supporting cast and probes the origins of the album in ways that Ferry fans will appreciate. Taken in tandem, it becomes the definitive blu-ray by a man rightfully regarded as one of rock’s coolest crooners.