NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Trendsetting, influential, original, sexy and just plain cool are several words used to describe Bryan Ferry's music with Roxy Music and as a solo artist. In an extremely rare New Orleans appearance, Ferry brings more than four decades of rock artistry to the Saenger Theater Thursday, March 16.
Ferry's long career started as the handsomely creative singer/songwriter of Roxy Music in the early 70s. Ferry and Roxy Music's left-of-center pop/glam sensibilities were hugely popular in their UK homeland and across Europe.
An art student, Ferry and his band mates released eight distinctive albums between 1972 and 1982, with most widely regarded. Rolling Stone magazine put two of those albums, For Your Pleasure and Siren, in their top 500 albums of all time.
Their album covers are equally artistic and controversial. Ferry's art school leanings come through here as the band married their music to covers with sexy models, some of which Ferry had relationships. Can you guess who this famous super model is on the album cover, left? (It's Jerry Hall.)
Roxy Music was a forebear and influence on the British New Wave scene, laying the ground work for bands like Ultravox, Human League, The Smiths and Duran Duran. Their early sound was partly experimental, with Ferry sounding more punk than pop. I think you will find their albums in Talking Heads' David Byrne's collection. Roxy's fledgling sound is also credited to Brian Eno, a member of Roxy Music for their first two albums, not bad for a bands historical cred.
It took America some time to finally "get" Roxy Music when the band scored its first hit with Love is the Drug from their fifth LP Siren. This is one to crank up on a road trip.
Roxy Music - Love is the Drug
Ferry, the chief songwriter and driving force in the band, was also a prolific solo artist, cutting several albums in between creating Roxy Music LPs. As with many great bands whose sound evolves, Roxy Music, along with Ferry's solo material, eventually settled around more contemporary song arrangements.
Ferry has a beautiful singing voice, and the music became more warm and atmospheric, marrying well with his style of crooning. When Roxy released their final album Avalon in 1982, the transformation was complete. Rolling Stone named the sultry work one of the top 100 albums of the 80s.
Roxy Music - More Than This
It was now Ferry's time, and after the disbanding of Roxy Music he released his sixth solo album, Boys and Girls, in 1985. It went number one in the UK. Ferry enlisted the help of some of his famous musician friends like Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler for the album. His hit Slave to Love was very much in the vein of Avalon and cemented Ferry's near-iconic status.
Bryan Ferry - Slave to Love
While many bands don't have records of what cities they played in during their careers, it was tough to pin down whether Ferry had played here with Roxy or as a solo artist. But we found on the local Warehouse concert list website that Ferry played New Orleans with Roxy Music at the Warehouse in 1976 in support of their Siren album. They played with Quicksilver and a pre-Steve Perry Journey. Therefore, Ferry's gig here is special. To experience someone so influential, it's hard to quantify his importance.
If Ferry and Roxy Music need any more validation, here's part of U2 drummer Adam Mullen Jr.'s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech: "And we never would have got out of my kitchen in our town in Dublin had it not been for people like the Sex Pistols, Tom Verlaine and Television, Roxy Music, Patti Smith. These people are in our rock and roll hall of fame. Thank you."
You can thank Bryan Ferry yourself at the Saenger.