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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 60:34)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.0 Surround
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • Documentaries - Inc interviews, rehearsal and press conference footage.
Roxy Music - Live at the Apollo
Warner Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 109 mins . E . PAL

  Feature
Contract

When I first heard that Roxy Music was reforming for a world tour (that included little ol' Perth), I, like many others, thought, "Here we go again." Reunion tours are usually a disappointment, often resulting in rehashed "Best of" CDs to cash in. Occasionally an album of new material will be released that is but a patch on past glories, bought by completists regardless, who will try to convince anyone who will listen, that the artist still has 'it'. At least Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols had the right idea. A few years ago, the remaining Pistols announced a reunion tour, and when quizzed "Why?", he replied, "We’ve found a common cause - and it's your money." Honest, if nothing else.

It would appear that Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay, and Phil Manzanera found a common cause too, though I suspect it is not money. All are quite wealthy I am sure, and there is no need to suck the well dry - so to speak. In the documentary that accompanies this release, the guys explain that there was never any intention to record again, so it is all about the music already out there. Perhaps some new Roxy Music songs might not have been a bad idea, Heaven knows Bryan Ferry hasn't cranked out too many hits on his own for some time.

Recorded in October 2001, Roxy Music Live at the Apollo is a record of that aforementioned world tour, culminating in London, where Roxy Music was 'born' back in 1971. Roxy Music in their heyday were at the cutting edge of glam, new wave, even bordering on punk at times. As the years passed, they mellowed into more of a traditional rock band, finally evolving, almost, into a cabaret band, albeit a very classy one. As one browses their catalogue, and plays the songs, you see the progression from say, Re-make/Re-model through to Avalon. Two songs only chronologically ten years apart, but worlds apart musically.

Joining Roxy Music on this tour are original members Paul Thompson and long-time Ferry solo band member Chris Spedding. Most of the others in this version of the band would have been but babies when Roxy Music released their first album, and yes, it includes Yanick Etienne (she of the high notes in Avalon). The songs are faithfully reproduced, which is quite a feat considering the diversity of styles, and all are delivered with passion, faith, and a genuine camaraderie between the main players.

For the record, the crazy outfits and hair are gone (they are not bald, they've just ditched the crazy dos), and Bryan Ferry is still "Mr Style". Even at his age, he comes across as calm, cool, and so damned suave. Honestly, the man would look stylish wearing a bin-liner. His talent really shines through as well, on the piano, organ, harmonica, and vocals; and he wrote or co-wrote almost every song. Damn, he must be loaded! There are no solo Ferry songs on offer, but he does have a solo DVD available. There is no mention of Brian Eno either.

A 'reunion that satisfies' is probably the best way to describe this show. A good selection of songs bridging the catalogue, played with slick perfection, and very satisfying. If, like me, you are not quite as familiar with the older stuff then be patient, as you will be rewarded, as the more recent stuff is not only familiar, but easier listening. It is just a shame that there was no room for Same Old Scene, More Than This, Over You, or about half a dozen other faves. Oh well, at 108 minutes plus a 17 minute documentary, this is still great value.

Trivia spot: Bryan Ferry once dated supermodel Jerry Hall, and even proposed to her on the island of Mustique, but she dumped him for Mick Jagger - work that out? Had she married Bryan, she might have become Jerry Ferry. Is that sniggering I can hear?

Track Listing

Re-make/Re-model
Street Life
Ladytron
While My Heart is Still Beating
Out of the Blue
A Song For Europe
My Only Love
In Every Dream Home a Heartache
Oh Yeah
Both Ends Burning
Tara
Mother of Pearl
Avalon
Dance Away
Jealous Guy
Editions of You
Virginia Plain
Love is the Drug
Do the Strand
For Your Pleasure

  Video
  Audio
  Extras
Contract

This is a very satisfying transfer and it is streets ahead of the other Roxy Music release The High Road, but then this is much newer. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, it has 16:9 enhancement for the widescreen TV brigade. Everything begins with some pre-concert black and white footage, switching to colour as the show starts. The colours really hit out and are quite magnificent. Blue light is a constant throughout and the usual problems associated with it are frequent, but this is not a fault of the transfer. The image is generally sharp, except when the stage is washed in the aforementioned blue light where everything starts to bleed a little. The oversaturation, however, generally gives this a real concert look, and there are plenty of bold colours used. Blacks vary a little, and in many of the close ups appear more grey, but I am not sure if it is low-level noise, or stage lighting. It is most probably the latter. There is no evidence of grain or chroma noise.

Shadow detail is generally good, and there is little to no white stage lighting so there is a lot of shadow on stage. There are no video artefacts, and only some very slight aliasing of piano keys, such as at the 23:08 mark. The layer change is positioned well at 60:35 and occurs just after the band introductions.

Audio-wise there are three options, including DTS 5.0. Mmmm, love that DTS. The other two are a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and Dolby Digital 5.0. My first reaction was "Oh, no. Where's the .1 in the DTS?", but believe me it is not needed. I often output the centre speaker signal to the subwoofer as well, but this time I had to turn it off. The low-frequency sounds are as rich as any I've heard. They really fill the room, yet are not aggressive or thumping. All other instruments are crystal clear, and the drums and percussion instruments come through very clean with a great presence. All vocals are at appropriate volumes and placement, although Ferry does tend to mumble some of the lyrics, so the subtitles are a bonus. The sound is predominantly from the front and is evenly spread, with the backing vocals placed slightly to the left. There are several guitar solos, but these are mixed in with the wall of sound and are not pushed to the fore. The rear speakers are used extensively for the audience noise, and some sound spill-over from the front. There are times though, when the whole thing is so quiet, you could hear an Armani suit creasing.

The remaining audio options were sampled and to be honest there was little audible difference between the Dolby Digital 5.0 and the DTS 5.0. The DTS was sightly crisper and more spacious. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo has the same depth and clarity, but only delivered from the front speakers so that 'fill the room' feel is not as evident. There are no problems with audio sync.

There is one extra included, which is a nice accompaniment to the feature. The Documentary runs a little over 17 minutes and captures the band discussing the impending tour via a press conference, rehearsals, and to and from the venue. It is well shot, well edited. and will interest even casual fans. It is presented with the same specifications as the feature, apart from the audio which is only Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

With a combined running time of just under two hours, this is good value. The concert itself is well filmed, well performed, and includes many of the best Roxy Music songs. The documentary is added value. The concert audio and video are very good, and you would be hard pressed to find cause to complain. This is a trip down memory lane, and reminds you how good these guys were, and how cool Bryan Ferry will always be. It even prompted me to dig out my Avalon CD, but hey, it's a personal favourite. If you have ever enjoyed the music of Roxy Music, then you will enjoy this too. I wonder if Jerry Hall has seen it yet?


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  •   And I quote...
    "From glam, to rock, and even cabaret, Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music wore many hats, but always with style and panache..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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