There’s always been an air of glamour surrounding Bryan Ferry, and now it’s percolating from his love of jazz.
In particular, it harks back to the Dixieland bands of the 20s and 30s, which explains the nostalgic and stylish start to proceedings on his latest tour, as his orchestra eases respectfully through Roxy Music classics such as Do The Strand and Avalon.
The tone changes during Reason Or Rhyme as orchestra becomes harnessed to rock band and the man himself, in floral smoking jacket, switches similarly between crooner and rock star.
The evening covers everything from Tin Pan Alley to traditional folk (Carrickfergus) and a burst of Charlie Parker to soul classics and an homage to Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice I’m Alright.
As the orchestra loosens its bow ties, though, it’s the nod to Roxy and Ferry’s solo career that gets the crowd on its feet, the consummate musicians and two backing singers injecting fresh energy into Jealous Guy, Love Is The Drug, Let’s Work Together, Editions of You.
Chris Smither has gravitated to elder statesman of this genre. His voice has a touch more gravel now, although the remaining sweetness belies 69 years.
The blues is never far away but he shapes and moulds it like a piece of warm Plasticine. It’s all accompanied by the percussive rhythms of his stage-shuffling shoes.
Smither pokes fun at his own perceptions, namechecking a review that referred to one album as offering the depressing cynicism that characterised previous offerings.
He plays a songs with those themes but to pigeon-hole Smither is risky business. Perhaps his show isn’t a melting pot but it’s certainly on a slow simmer.
His guitar offers clear understanding of light and shade, subtleties sometimes lost on less battle-hardened campaigners.
Support was from Rita Payne, a Doncaster duo whose tight voices suggest three-part harmonies. It’s only a matter of time before they make the jump from opening act to headliners.