In 2015, at the United Kingdom literary festival known as the Curious Arts Festival, Phil Manzanera, who is the legendary guitarist for Roxy Music and The Sound of Blue Band, played a tantalizing and atmospheric set at the Curious Arts Festival.
Phil Manzanera played a mixture of Roxy Music songs and The Sound of Blue Band songs, with the following musicians who are literally world-class musicians: singer/songwriter Sonia Bernardo(from Portugal), drummer Javier Weyler(from Argentina) who used to play in Stereophonics, Yaron Stavi on bass(from Israel), Stavi has played with the likes of David Gilmour and Lily Allen, Joao De Macedo Mello on keyboards and saxophone, who is also a member of Razorlight and has also toured with David Gilmour, and Lucas Polo, who is a guitarist from Spain. Phil Manzanera has been braggadocios about his band, stating that, “this is the most talented group of musicians that he has ever played with”. Did they steal the show at the Curious Arts Festival?
First of all, the live production quality of this record is impeccable. “Live At The Curious Arts Festival” seems to showcase each instrument and highlight it in full when Manzanera rolls into his crazy guitar solos or when De Macedo Mello comes in with a sleek saxophone that will cause the audience to dance about in place. Bernardo’s voice is certainly the highlight of this live album. Bernardo has a very sexy, sultry voice in which she brings about a whole different, more seductive take on the Roxy Music classics “Take A Chance With Me”, “Love Is The Drug”, and “More Than This”. It showcases that homage to Roxy Music while adding their own twist on it.
The live production starts off with a beautiful instrumental jam entitled “High Atlas”. It is an attention getter and it immediately shows that from a musicianship standpoint, that this is one of the tightest sounding groups from an arrangement standpoint that I have heard in quite sometime. I especially love the organ that intertwines with Manzanera’s guitar. Then, the live production seamlessly transitions into “More Than This”, which is a Roxy Music classic. The harmonies in the chorus blend in very nicely into the aforementioned Roxy Music classic. It’s a very bluesy, funky, with a bit of jazz elements track that Bernardo’s sultry vocals immediately stand out to me in the track. “1960 Caracas” has that Spanish flavor that seems to incorporate to paint the picture of South American culture in the music. The soulful crooning that Bernardo offers is very soulful and seductive. The organs enhance the sound that much more in this track.
The moment that leaves no doubt in terms of it being a standout moment in this live production led by Phil Manzanera is “No Church In The Wild”. I absolutely love the blues feel to it and how they just get down and jam out. Other standout moments include Manzanera’s intro in “Magdalena” and the seamless transition into “Stormy Weather”.
Overall, this is a live production that sounds the way a live production album should sound. It should give you a taste of what it actually feels like to be at a Phil Manzanera concert. I love how it focuses on the crispness of the music, and there are only rare occasions where you hear the audience. That’s the way it should be. Plus, if you’re not familiar with Roxy Music or The Sound of Blue Band, this is an excellent way for you to quickly get to know Phil Manzanera’s career as a guitarist. I believe that he absolutely flies under the radar in terms of the conversation of all-time greats as a guitarist. He does what a great guitarist should do, and that is serve the song instead of “noodling just to noodle”. Check out the track listing to “Live At The Curious Arts Festival” by Phil Manzanera below!
“Live At The Curious Arts Festival” by Phil Manzanera
- “High Atlas”
- “More Than This”
- “1960 Caracas”
- “Stormy Weather”
- “Take A Chance With Me”
- “Love Is The Drug”
- “No Church In The Wild”
- “Let’s Stick Together”
- “Out Of The Blue”
Check out the album teaser below!