New Musical Express APRIL 21, 1973 - by Ian MacDonald


Brighton Dome

Groups touring Britain are expected to put on that little bit extra for their London dates on the simple score of the probable presence of the press. If it comes off, all well and good - and, if it doesn't, there'll be the customary murmurs about equipment troubles, frigid Southern audiences, and the best gigs always being in Newcastle, or Manchester, or Glasgow. So it's doubly' interesting to witness a band not only playing an average gig outside London but, more importantly in this case, heading down the home straight of a long and tiring tour. Roxy look tired before they have to leave their hotel for tonight's gig at The Dome.

I wish, sighs Eno, sprawling winsomely in an armchair, I could get the acclaim and the money without having to go out and do the work. Phil Manzanera, in immaculate toreador outfit, strolls across to tell Eno the coach is ready; from six feet away he looks fit and fresh but, as he pauses to take the weight off for a second or two, you can see he's drawn and weary, afflicted with the usual untimely 'flu virus, the colour in his face only serveral layers of makeup.

The audience thinks we're clowns, says a deadpan Andy Mackay, combing back bangs of a fluorescent green, but they never see us crying. Those groups who go crazy in hotel rooms must be the ones who lack wit - for a mere sense of humour won't last you long on the road. You need objectivity and cool and an appreciative eye for the bizarre - or you end up filling lifts with crazy foam and driving limousines into swimming-pools.

The gig is about par for the tour. The balance is a bit weird at points and several crunching and screeching noises emerge from the speakers at inopportune moments. Bryan's stage movements are slightly less flamboyant (though his cross-stage truck to the organ and back during Editions Of You is perfectly timed and brings at least part of the house down), Eno is louder than he was at The Rainbow (a definite plus), and the instruments go out of tune earlier than usual. Virginia Plain, thereby played in about three different keys at once, is nonetheless a thunderous performance with Phil, Andy, and Eno breaking up at several junctures.

Not a great evening's music, but perfectly acceptable and performed with a lunatic flair that's not too frequently seen these days. Considering that these blokes should all be in bed, paying attention to their biological clocks, it's remarkable - but then this is life for a thousand other groups and money for a thousand other audience's.

Afterwards, back at the hotel, Bryan Ferry surveys a lounge scattered with musicians, girlfriends, vagrant journalists, and travelling salesmen. You get really grounded after a gig, he observes, morosely. You build up so much for it and when you come off at the end, you're absolutely flying and then it all fizzles out like this. Where's the glamour one hears so much about, I ask myself? He scratches his nose, ruminatively, peering about the room as if half expecting twelve lovely international models to turn up any second in the company of Andy Warhol, Cecil Beaton, and Truman Capote.

The hotel floor-manager falls over a chair, we all laugh, but no-one seems inclined to run wild, swinging from the chandeliers. A merry Paul Thompson totters around bidding everyone good night for the sixth time. Hey, Phil, calls Eno, doing his impression of The Faces, let's loon. Let's stick the furniture on the ceiling. Let's push the hotel over on its side. Yawns all round. Pah, says our befeathered superstar, throwing an arm around his ladyfriend. You're all weeds. I'm going to bed. We're all still sitting there two hours later.