Roxy Music Live: Villa Maria Estate Winery Mar. 6, 2011

While the idea of having Roxy Music perform outdoors in the middle of one of New Zealand’s premiere wineries might seem like a good idea on paper, the reality was a bit different. Fortunately the torrential rain that fell during most of the weekend in Auckland let up on Sunday afternoon and the sun actually made a welcome appearance. But by the time Roxy Music took the stage at 8:00pm, there was a distinct chill in the air…actually it was darn cold. One couldn’t help but feel for the two scantily-clad female dancers who gyrated their way throughout much of the 1 hour and 40 minute show. I guess they kept warm by their constant dancing.

The band opened with The Main Thing, from 1982’s Avalon and then dug back to 1973 for Street Life and Pyjamarama. After Prairie Rose and If There Is Something (a rather obscure track from the band’s 1972 debut album, it was clear this was not going to be a greatest hits run-through. Those first five songs showed just what a diverse, eclectic and experimental band Roxy Music has been.

Cheers went up when Bryan Ferry began crooning More Than This, one of the hits from Avalon. He followed it with John Lennon’s Jealous Guy (nice whistling Bryan) and a bristling version of Neil Young’s Like A Hurricane that gave guitarists Phil Manzanera and Oliver Thompson a chance to show their stuff.

The mood changed from there with the band opting to go deep into their catalogue, playing relatively unknown tracks like Bitter-Sweet (Country Life), 2HB (Roxy Music) and To Turn You On (Avalon). The songs were beautifully played, but the sizable audience was losing interest fast, chattering away, waiting for the hits.

Same Old Scene, from 1980’s Flesh + Blood got the crowd’s attention and it was free sailing from there to the end of the show with favourites like Virginia Plain, Do The Strand, Love Is The Drug and Let’s Stick Together giving the audience something to get up a sing along to. They closed the show, and this tour, with a haunting version of For Your Pleasure.

While the band should be credited for presenting such an interesting setlist, I can’t help but think that the atmospheric, more demanding tunes like 2HB, Tara and To Turn You On, would have gone down better in an indoor facility like the Civic Theatre.

In addition to original bandmembers Bryan Ferry (vocals and keyboards), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy McKay (sax) ands Paul Thompson (drums), the band was augmented by seven additional musicians. While Manzanera and Oliver Thompson sounded good trading guitar licks, one wonders why the much younger Thompson was needed, as Manzanera seemed quite capable of holding his own. The same could be said for the two drummers and two sax players.

The band provided plenty of eye candy to go along with the music. The afor-mentioned dancers were featured on the large video screens as were a dazzling montage of photos and graphics throughout the set. Too bad we didn’t see more of the actual band.

No matter, Roxy Music proved that they were one of the most exciting and inventive bands of the 1970s. Chances are, we won’t be seeing them again, so this proved to be an excellent way to send them off.

To hear Roxy Music perform Virginia Plain at Villa Maria click here:

Here is the complete set list:

  1. The Main Thing (Avalon 1982)
  2. Street Life (Stranded 1973)
  3. Pyjamarama (single 1973)
  4. Prairie Rose (Country Life 1974)
  5. If There Is Something (Roxy Music 1972)
  6. More Than This (Avalon 1982)
  7. Jealous Guy (single 1981)
  8. Like A Hurricane (Neil Young cover)
  9. 2HB (Roxy Music 1972)
  10. In Every Dream Home A Heartache (For Your Pleasure 1973)
  11. Tara (Avalon 1982)
  12. Bitter-Sweet (Country Life 1974)
  13. To Turn You On (Avalon 1982)
  14. Same Old Scene (Flesh + Blood 1980)
  15. My Only Love (Flesh + Blood 1980)
  16. Virginia Plain (single 1972)
  17. Love Is The Drug (Siren 1975)
  18. Editions Of You (For Your Pleasure 1973)
  19. Let’s Stick Together (Let’s Stick Together 1976)
  20. Do The Strand (For Your Pleasure 1973)
  21. Avalon (Avalon 1982)
  22. For Your Pleasure (For Your Pleasure 1973)