Press Cycles: Roxy Music’s 50th Anniversary Tour

Press Cycles: Roxy Music’s 50th Anniversary Tour

Roxy Music kick off their 50th anniversary tour tomorrow night here in Toronto, and despite having paid a pretty penny for Bryan Ferry’s solo Avalon tour back in July 2019, I’ll be hanging over the edge of the upper bowl at the Scotiabank Arena. It being the first night of the tour, it’s anyone’s guess what the set list will be but I’d personally be thrilled if they just did the 2001 Best Of track listing plus, maybe, the title track of Manifesto, but whatever they settle on I’m sure it’ll be satisfying.

Despite this being objectively – at least in my mind – a big deal tour, there’s not been an awful lot of press around it so far. The three principal founding members – Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera, and Andy Mackay – have been doing a few interviews in the months leading up to the shows.

Manzanera covered a wealth of topics with Forbes, including how they were preparing for their first North American tour in 20 years:

When I analyzed it, I thought, “Hang on, there’s eight albums, there’s 80 songs. You can’t play 80 songs. Okay. So how many songs could you play in the given time before people lose the will to live? Maybe 16, 17 songs.” So I think we whittled it down to like 30 songs and we’re practicing 30 songs and then that way we can see which ones sound good playing live. We’re going back to the original multi-tracks and working out exactly what we played without any jamming and stuff like that and see what it sounds like. And then maybe swap out certain songs, but obviously there will be stuff that we know people will want to hear. Hits or the more well-known songs, but other songs from the albums that haven’t had an airing, or haven’t had an airing ever. Maybe we’ll try some of those. You try them out and when you’re playing live, there is an element of danger, of jeopardy. Everything could go wrong, could be a complete disaster, but it could be fantastic.

Phil Manzanera
Sunday Conversation: Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera On The Band’s Fiftieth Anniversary Reunion Tour, Bowie And More @ Forbes

Last month, Vulture got Ferry to reminisce about his Roxy Music memories in advance of turning them into live performance:

Best song

“Mother of Pearl” always comes up as a favorite for me, because it’s very wordy and I feel that it has very interesting lyrics. It’s emotional, and yet it jumps around from one structure to another, which I like. It was on the third album, Stranded, and I felt I was on a bit of a roll with my writing at that point. Yeah, it’s the only song I didn’t write on the keyboard. I took a bass guitar away with me for a couple of weeks to do some writing. I had a small keyboard and a cassette, and I recorded it. I wrote the song out in Greece, and my friend Simon Puxley was with me, who was Roxy’s press agent in the early days. He wrote the sleeve notes on the first Roxy album. “Mother of Pearl” is a song I very rarely play live because it’s such a long song.It’s just under seven minutes. It’s one of those songs where I felt I got it right for myself.

Bryan Ferry
The Most Seductive and Poetic of Roxy Music, According to Bryan Ferry @ Vulture

Billboard talked to both Ferry and Manzanera about the group dynamics after so long, noting that the latter was on record as recently as 2014 as not believing another tour would ever happen:

It’s almost like a dysfunctional family. You get together and have an enjoyable time. Then real life comes in, and you have wives and girlfriends and family. You’re off busy doing other things. Suddenly, it’s 10 years of working for David [Gilmour], and then you have a cup of tea with Bryan. ‘Oh, that would be nice to actually work together. Did we have an argument 20 years ago? I cannot remember why.’ So we’re back to square one . . . there is just no escape.

Phil Manzanera
‘A Lot of Mutual Respect’: Roxy Music’s Ferry and Manzanera Divulge Details of September Arena Tour @ Billboard

Adds Ferry:

I guess there must be a lot of mutual respect. They’re both characters and have strong musical personalities, and I guess they put up with me as well for quite a few years. I don’t see a great deal of them now, but it’s always very nice when I do. I think a sense of humor always binds people together, and from those early days, it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of hard work, touring and always rushing to complete albums. Sometimes you didn’t feel you had got the album quite there. You had really strong deadlines in those days because you’re on tour next week. But [I have] very good memories, very positive memories of working together.

Bryan Ferry
‘A Lot of Mutual Respect’: Roxy Music’s Ferry and Manzanera Divulge Details of September Arena Tour @ Billboard

Newsweek scored all three of Ferry, Manzanera, and Mackay for their feature on the band’s reunion, and the latter cast his vote for keeping more early material in the set:

It’s always really good to do some of those [early] numbers because they’re quite quirky and they give quite a lot of scope for playing an interpretation—they weren’t overworked out by formula, so they were often quite spontaneous. When you’ve been making records for a long time, you end up with a fair choice of material.’

Andy Mackay
Roxy Music Celebrate 50 Years of Style and Substance @ Newsweek

Speaking to Manzanara alone, Under The Radar found out just how the plans for the 50th anniversary tour came about:

Hays Davis (Under the Radar): How long has the band been planning for activity regarding the debut album’s 50th anniversary?

Phil Manzanera: Only since Christmas. I was down here in the countryside, and I’m about 10 minutes away from where Bryan Ferry lives when he’s down here, and I was doing a little bit of work with him on his solo project that he’s doing at the moment. We’re having a cup of tea and he said, “Do you fancy doing some gigs?” And I thought, “Well, this sounds great to me.” I suddenly thought about it. It’s our 50th. What else are we gonna do? [Laughs] We need to do something. And I think he’d had a request from his agent or something in America saying, “Would you like to come and do some gigs?” I said sure, I’m always up for doing things. And I rang Andy and Paul, and they were all into it.

Everyday is Christmas: Roxy Music – Phil Manzanera on the 50th Anniversary Tour @ Under The Radar

Manzanera also assured Consequence Of Sound that despite everyone being in their 70s, they were trying to stay as current as relevant as possible, down to enlisting St. Vincent as their tour opener:

The minute her name was mentioned, I went, ‘Yeah! Who thought of that? That’s a brilliant idea. It’s like a modern, interesting, weird, different kind of act and these other guys who are a weird kind of act from the ‘70s.

Phil Manzanera
Phil Manzanera on Roxy Music’s 50th Anniversary Tour, The Joys of Being a “Weird Act From the ’70s” @ Consequence Of Sound

And as for St. Vincent’s mutual appreciation for the headliners, in 2021 while discussing her latest Daddy’s Home with KCRW, offered her thoughts on “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” from For Your Pleasure:

Oh man. I love Bryan Ferry. This song, to me, is one of the scariest, creepiest, perviest songs I’ve ever heard. I’d like to think so. standards of living they’re rising. You can just picture this slow camera creeping through the dream house and getting to the plastic woman. This song is creeping dread to me. And I think you can compare the texture of ‘Penitentiary Philosophy’ to the end of ‘In Every Dream Home a Heartache.’ 

Annie Clark
Daddy’s Home: St. Vincent breaks down the ‘70s, familial trauma, and four songs that move her @ KCRW

And as the North American tour wraps and the band heads home for their UK dates, NME asked Phil Manzanera about the odds of another founding member returning to the fold for some of the shows:

Was there any chance Brian Eno could have been involved in this tour?

“We love Brian to bits and I still communicate with him a lot, but Brian said from the beginning that he was a small, independent mobile unit, to which I added, ‘From the planet Zog.’ Brian is an amazing, unique person who wasn’t designed to be in a band. He finds it terribly awkward, so one is hesitant to say: ‘Fancy going on tour?’

“Wouldn’t it be great if Brian came on for a few numbers at a show? In a dreamworld, that’d be perfect. But Brian just isn’t that kind of guy and it’s not going to happen.”

Phil Manzanera, Roxy Music
Roxy Music on reuniting, Brian Eno and those Glastonbury 2023 rumours @ NME

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