LIVE REVIEW: Bryan Ferry and Judith Owen, Sheffield City Hall

Bryan Ferry on stage. Picture: Matthew Becker (www.liverockjournal.com)
Bryan Ferry on stage. Picture: Matthew Becker (www.liverockjournal.com)

So rock stars can age gracefully. As he edges towards 70, Bryan Ferry has lost little of the musical substance and style that has long ensured he was in with the in crowd.

After his successful diversion with a jazz orchestra, this time he is on more familiar ground with the latest album, Avonmore, and tour with the type of immaculately drilled band that we have come to expect.

The first hour or so seamlessly mixes tracks from Avonmore (Driving Me Wild is a stand-out ) with jewels from Roxy and early solo years – Ladytron, Slave To Love, More Than This, Avalon and, particularly affecting, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, the pared back songs that always highlighted the smouldering voice to best effect.

Unsurprisingly, the temperature rises rapidly with a triple whammy of Love Is The Drug, Virginia Plain and Do The Strand. And still to come are crowd pleasers such as Let’s Work Together and Jealous Guy.

The audience is on its feet. Many have stuck with him for the past 40 years and more, and have no reason to stray with performances like this and the quality of the new material. And it’s reassuring to know that you can still be cool at 70.

There was a fine start to the evening, too. Singer, pianist and writer Judith Owen had delighted The Greystones a couple of months ago with her polished songs and outstanding band that featured drummer Russ Kunkel and bass player Leland Sklar, who made their names playing with the likes of James Taylor, Carole King and Joni Mitchell.

They were perfectly at home on a much bigger stage, performing songs from Owen’s Ebb and Flow album, and reflecting on what she called ‘a love letter to the Laurel Canyon era’.