Melbourne: For your pleasure - Thu 16th Aug

Melbourne: For your pleasure
16 August 2001

From the Herald Sun, 11 AUG 2001, By NUI TE KOHA

Brian Ferry remains the ultimate Mr Cool, writes NUI TE KOHA
FOR decades, Bryan Ferry has epitomised style, flair and quintessentialcool.
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 told the Herald Sun, ``but I think I was still half asleep while I was stupidly wagging the finger at my son.
``It was one of those long flights where everybody dozes off, so I slept through most of it.
``I woke up and we were in this series of dives. We did about three really serious dives, and the captain later told me we were four seconds from death, from not being able to pull out.
``I'd like to think I'm always cool under pressure,'' Ferry says,
backtracking to the bad language parable, ``but that whole experience was like a flash from above.
``It was like being told: `Do the things you need to do'.''
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 sell-out US dates last week, and perform in Australia next week.
``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 again?'
``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 Avalon).
``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 music.''
A former girlfriend, model Jerry Hall, is said to have inspired Ferry's eternally dark spin on romance, after she famously ran off with the Rolling Stones' 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 think I've been inspired by many people, lots of things and lots of events in my life. Not just her.''
Ferry's distinctive croon is still an addictive foil to Manzanera's
wall-of-sound guitars, and newcomer Lucy Wilkins' surreal violin and
keyboard work.
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 -- as Ferry continues to demonstrate -- 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.
On his approach to this tour: I had a short list of 50 songs which I was happy to rehearse. Now I wish we could play them all.
On Mick Jagger, who wooed Jerry Hall: There is no forgiveness ... but I don't talk about it anymore because of respect for my wife.
On the future of Roxy Music 2001: We haven't talked about recording, believe it or not. I have a new album due for release early next year, so that's my future right there.'

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