Times Online - Fri 25th Jul

Times Online
25 July 2003

From timesonline.com

Roxy Music a slave to its fans

Group reunites to tour after 18-year hiatus

Times Correspondent

When Roxy Music decided to hit the road for the first time in nearly two decades in 2001, it didn't want to simply just churn out its tried-and-true favorites.

"There's songs that everybody knows, but we have a big catalog of songs, and we wanted to choose a fair representation of what was there," said Roxy frontman Bryan Ferry. "You've got a lot of fans out there that go way back and know all of those (lesser-heard) songs. And those are also the songs that we enjoy playing."

Scheduled to perform at Tinley Park's Tweeter Center on Thursday, Roxy Music, featuring Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera and saxophone/oboist Andy Mackay as its principal members, was formed in London in 1971 and released its self-titled debut a year later (another founding member, Brian Eno, would depart after its sophomore release, 1973's "For Your Pleasure" and go on to be one of popular music's most esteemed producers).

Melding everything from art rock and avant-garde to soul and R&B, Roxy Music were FM rock faves and cult heroes here in the States in the 1970s courtesy of timeless albums such as 1974's "Country Life" and its 1975 masterpiece, "Siren." To most ardent fans, the band members -- Ferry in particular -- were icons, setting both musical as well as fashion trends (Ferry long has been considered one of the best-dressed men in rock 'n' roll), and even were the occasional subject of tabloid fodder.

After recording its second classic collection, 1982's "Avalon," the band called it a day, with Ferry launching a strong solo career. Yet its influence remained and still remains strong. Everyone from Duran Duran to Depeche Mode to Radiohead and Coldplay has taken a thing or two from Roxy's lead, musical or otherwise.

The seeds for the band's 2001 tour, its first in 18 years, were sewn in 2000, when Ferry hit the road on his own after years away in support of his late 1999 collection of '30s and '40s standards, "As Time Goes By." Included in his set from that tour were well-received chestnuts from his Roxy days.

"After (the tour), I said to myself, 'Well, I'd like to continue this touring process,' " he said. "I thought that maybe this would be a good time (for a reunion tour). I called up Phil and Andy, and (original Roxy drummer) Paul (Thompson), and they were for it."

Consisting of more than 50 stops throughout the world, Ferry described the 2001 tour as "a party every night," both on stage and off.

"All of the songs never seemed out of place. All these years later, they all felt fresh to me," Ferry said. "And there was quite a buzz out there (in the audience). There were a lot of die-hard fans who had waited 18 years for us to come back. Everything went well at all of the shows."

For those who missed them the first time around, the band released a two-disc platter culled from the 2001 tour, "Live." A two-disc collection that is an exception to today's live-album-as-tour-souvenir rule, Roxy selected both standards such as "Love is the Drug" and "Avalon," along with rarely heard gems such as "Remake/Remodel" and "Layton," both from its 1972 debut, for fans' pleasure.

The band's stop at Tweeter Center on Thursday is one of only six shows it will be playing anywhere this year thus far. This current trek, Ferry said, came together at the last minute, after the band took headlining festival performance offers they couldn't refuse earlier this year and shortly after Ferry concluded yet another successful tour on his own, in support of his most recent release, last year's "Frantic."

"We thought there were some people who missed us the year before last that may have wanted to come and see us, as well as people who saw us and want to see us again," Ferry said. "And it was only for just a few shows. That's pretty much the reason, really."

Roxy Music's brief Stateside jaunt kicks off today in New York and concludes Aug. 2 in California. And, unfortunately, Roxy die-hards will have to keep their fingers crossed for that long-hoped studio follow-up to 1982's "Avalon." After the tour, Ferry is scheduled to return to the studio to record what will be his follow-up to "Frantic."

Previous Article | Next Article