After 18 years off, everyone knew that Roxy Music's 2001 reunion tour was going to be an event, and by all accounts, it was. But once the thrill of it all wore off, did the band still have anything to say musically? The answer is a resounding yes. Eagle Records' release of the double-CD Live features tracks recorded all over the world, creating a virtual dream concert made from the best-recorded, best-played songs of the 2001 tour. Unfettered by the need to promote an album, Roxy was free to survey their entire career, and it would be hard to come up with a better set list (OK, "Pyjamarama" should have been included). The expanded lineup enables the band to effortlessly re-create everything from Eddie Jobson's violin solos to Eno's treatments and textures, and while the arrangements stick pretty much to the original script, the band really digs into the tunes, and Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay have never sounded better as soloists. In fact, Manzanera is consistently dazzling every time he steps to the fore, sounding every bit as ferocious and unearthly as he did on their first few albums. Having Paul Thompson back behind the drumkit was vital for the early material, but also adds some needed power to tunes like "My Only Love". Bryan Ferry's voice has weathered just a bit, but he's still the epitome of crooner cool.
The sound quality, as expected, is excellent, allowing the listener to hear every musical detail the band offers. Audience participation, the bane of many a live album, is largely held in check until the very end of the set when it intrudes slightly on the encore numbers. But this is a very small quibble about a thoroughly wonderful release. This set should impress those unfamiliar with Roxy and will surely thrill longtime fans. It's a fine testament to this band that these songs sound timeless rather than dated nearly 30 years down the line in many cases. After nearly two decades away, Roxy Music prove that they still have plenty of style and plenty of substance. Recommended.