Perth: The King Of Cool - Sun 19th Aug

Perth: The King Of Cool
19 August 2001

Perth: The King Of Cool

Perth Sunday Times 19 AUG 2001,
By: Nui Te Koha

FOR decades, Bryan Ferry has epitomised style, flair and
quintessential cool.
But even by Ferry's high standards, his determination to stay suavely
unruffled reached legendary status when a madman tried to crash a British
Airways flight 12km above Africa last year.
Ferry, 56, his wife Lucy Helmore and their four sons -- Otis, Isaac, Tara
and Merlin -- were flying from London to Nairobi.
According to sources close to the singer, Ferry woke at the height of the
drama as the plane took one of several steep dives.
Ferry glanced up to see Isaac clutching his seat in terror and, in the face
of certain death, his son swore repeatedly.
As chaos ensued and the aircraft plunged, Ferry shot a disapproving glance
at the boy. ``Language!'' Ferry told Isaac tersely.
Ferry, the King of Cool, chuckles knowingly when the anecdote is recounted
to him.
``Yes, it went exactly like that,'' Ferry says, ``but I think I was still
half asleep while I was stupidly wagging the finger at my son.''
For the past year, Ferry has elected to reunite with Roxy Music, the seminal
art rock band he formed in 1970.
It seemed like a logical step for Ferry, who, during a solo tour for As Time
Goes By, a show of 1930s standards, was increasingly drawn to rearrangements
of selected Roxy Music songs.
``Doing things like (Roxy's first hit) Virginia Plain, which was one of the
more up-tempo or youthful of the songs, I didn't feel undignified at all,''
Ferry says. ``I got a lot of pleasure out of doing those songs and it did
make me feel like it would be nice to do a complete Roxy show again.''
Ferry and founding members Phil Manzanera (guitar) and Andy Mackay
(saxophone) got together earlier this year, finished a string of sold-out US
dates last week and perform in Australia starting in Perth tonight.
``There's been a lot of goodwill toward the band and that is pleasing,''
Ferry says. ``No groaning: `Oh God, why are they getting back together
``I think there's a good feeling about Roxy Music because we stopped working
together at the commercial peak of our career (in 1983, after releasing
``I think people appreciate that I -- we all have -- been trying hard to do
good work.''
When Gucci designer Tom Ford was recently asked to name a style paragon,
without hesitation he named Bryan Ferry.
And while the singer describes his passion for fashion as ``a cross to
bear'', there is no other 56-year-old rock star who can wear a silver
leather Dior suit as leanly and cleanly as Ferry.
``The music has always come first because that's where you spend 99 per cent
of your time. And the music is why I'm here on stage,'' he says.
``But the fact that you are on stage, I have always tried to make it
visually entertaining, and part of that is obviously the clothes.
``From an early age I was interested in the visual and aesthetics. I got
interested in every aspect of design, not only pictures, but architecture,
design of cars, clothes.''
For this tour Ferry is wearing Dior and Gucci. ``The two fashion houses are
deadly rivals,'' Ferry laughs, ``but I combine both of them because they're
very good.''
As a songwriter, Ferry is still cast as a tragic romantic hero, a lover
ruined by doomed desires.
``That always reads funny to me, but I suppose it's true,'' he says. ``I was
always attracted to sad music.
``The blues was the first thing I heard that made me want to get into
Former girlfriend Jerry Hall is said to have inspired Ferry's eternally dark
spin on romance after she famously ran off with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger.
Jagger cruelly boasted later: ``While Bryan was working on his album, I was
working on his chick.''
Says Ferry: ``Far too much emphasis is placed on that relationship. It was
one year of a long life. I've been inspired by many people . . . not just
Ferry's distinctive croon is still an addictive foil to Manzanera's
wall-of-sound guitars and newcomer Lucy Wilkins' surreal violin and keyboard
Ferry looks great. He sounds even better: ``I think it's true that people
don't like rock stars to age. They want them to do it gracefully.''
And the art of ageing gracefully? ``There are no secrets,'' he laughs.
``Just follow your own instincts.''
On being a rock star: ``I was never good at the business of being a rock
star. Other bands wanted to wreck hotel rooms. Roxy Music wanted to
redecorate them.''

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