Adelaide: New life of Bryan - Fri 17th Aug

Adelaide: New life of Bryan
17 August 2001

The Adelaide The Advertiser, by Michael Duffy

Eighteen years after Roxy Music packed away its dapper suits and avant garde art rock, Bryan Ferry and his band are back `for your pleasure'

BRYAN Ferry, the suavely suited crooner of Roxy Music, once described himself as an ``orchid born on a coal tip''. The son of a coal miner from Durham, England, Ferry and his flamboyant band sprouted from unlikely beginnings in 1971 to add bright colour to the musical landscape, inventing glam rock and inspiring a generation of youth to move on from Beatlemania to a more arty style.

Thirty years ago Roxy Music, resplendent in make-up, spangles, platform shoes and feathers, burst onto a music scene recording landmark songs including Virginia Plain, Love is The Drug, More Than This, Avalon, Dance Away and a cover of John Lennon's Jealous Guy during its 13-year career. According to Ferry, barely a day has gone by since the group disbanded in 1983 that he, saxophonist Andy MacKay and guitarist Phil Manzanera have not been asked when they will ``get Roxy back together'' and tour.

Finally, with a 50-date tour of four continents under way - including the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on August 17 - the group has an answer to please Roxy Music's legion of fans. Ferry, whose voice is as stylish and crisp as his trademark suits, says he has been ``taken aback'' by the positive reaction to the tour so far, which has taken them through Europe.

``We expected to get the usual `rock dinosaur' criticisms but it hasn't happened,'' Ferry says. ``Our last show, a week ago, was at a youth music festival with 65,000 young people and if we had any apprehension about the tour, this dispelled it. Some people have waited a long time for this . . . We just hoped people would remember us this time around.'' Remember they have, with even the music press - which Ferry remembers often ``savaged'' Roxy Music in the '70s - giving glowing concert reviews.

Ferry has clearly overcome any fear of flying he may have had following a near mid-air disaster in December last year when a passenger grabbed the controls of a passenger jet Ferry and his family were on en route to a holiday in Kenya. The plane plunged almost two miles in a matter of seconds but all the unflappable Ferry says is ``I should have announced the tour there and then''.

Saxophonist MacKay says he had ``mixed feelings'' about the reunion. ``There was one reaction to the news that we'd reformed that sticks in my mind - my wife's. Despite having been around back then, she never got to see Roxy play, so she's excited. But we have a three-year-old daughter now so life's complicated when you want to pick up and tour,'' he says.

``Things are different now, I had to practice to be able to play a full-length concert again, but it was good for me. One thing I'd forgotten about is working with Bryan: he's a perfectionist and his attention to detail is immense. I'd forgotten about that . . .''

For this tour, the group has included dancers, an idea adopted for a Top of the Pops performance, and a selection of Ferry's touring band. Former member Brian Eno, who left the group after Roxy Music's second LP For Your Pleasure in 1973, was never a consideration, says Mackay. ``Not really, we knew he wouldn't do it anyway, he hasn't been performing for a decade now.''

Roxy Music last toured Australia in 1980 and before that in 1976. The tours were extensive, though Ferry, honestly but sharply, says he remembers nothing of the country they toured with a small New Zealand band called Split Enz. Mackay on the other hand has good memories of Australia, particularly Adelaide.
``I remember walking around Adelaide in 1980 and I remember how pleasant the city is,'' he says dreamily. ``I have friends there so I'm looking forward to getting back to Adelaide and doing some relaxing there.''

And Ferry suggests this time round he may see and remember more of Australia. He even says he would like to do some fishing, though the image of Ferry dangling a line over the side of a boat anchored off Semaphore beach is difficult to imagine.

Fans who saw the group play two decades ago may notice two changes from the Roxy Music of old. ``For one the technology these days is much better. It's much easier to replicate what is on the albums these days,'' Ferry says. ``And the costumes are a bit different. I've been lucky enough for Gucci and Dior to provide my clothes now; stylish, but hopefully cutting edge too.''

More than anything, Ferry, who has pursued a solo career throughout the interim - with a new album including a collaboration with Brian Eno due out in January - seems thankful for the positive reaction to the music. ``I'd been touring solo and including more and more Roxy material. I felt good about playing it again and the audiences seemed to want to hear it, so the tour seemed like a good idea,'' he says modestly.

``But this tour has given me the best reviews I've ever had; the measure of goodwill is just overwhelming.''

Roxy Music will perform at the Entertainment Centre on August 17

Roxy Music formed in 1971 and disbanded in 1983, reforming this year for a world tour. It has had 21 members over a 12-year recording career, with original members Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera on the current tour.
1972 Roxy Music
1973 For Your Pleasure
1973 Stranded
1974 Country Life
1975 Siren
1976 Viva!
1979 Manifesto
1980 Flesh + Blood
1982 Avalon

Previous Article | Next Article