a lesson worthy of Glastonbury Legends-slot in the classroom

“Thank you for coming on our little tour tonight,” Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry smiled dryly to a sold-out London crowd at The O2, the final date of the UK leg of the reunion shows for mark the 50th anniversary of their first album. If there was ever a band for dark-but-glamorous Friday nights, it’s these guys – but it’s no simple hit parade.

Rumors suggest Roxy will step up as the coveted Sunday legend at Glastonbury next year; Previous favorites to take on the challenge include Kylie Minogue, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and James Brown. Roxy are a band with a catalog to take on the best of them but, as they demonstrate tonight, why they still matter comes down to their many idiosyncrasies.

The art-rock daddies who sent the first waves of the new wave to push the boundaries of pop forever, Roxy in the 70s were even the band that David Bowie says always inspired him and on his toes. Opening with “Re-make/Re-model,” the opening track from their 1972 self-titled debut album, seems a conscious nod to their legacy as a band that tore it apart and started over in a language pop of its own.

Roxy Music at the O2 (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

They can still hold you with the masterful lizard lounge majesty of Ferry, the coolly assured guitar god moans of Phil Manzanera, or even Andy Mackay’s talent for setting an arena on its feet with a sick electric clarinet solo. But it’s not panto rock clinging to old glories. From the sci-fi romance of ‘Ladytron’, the cosmic wig of ‘While My Heart Is Still Beating’ or the menacing program climax of ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’ (the band’s own ‘Paranoid Android’) , the band approaches the performance with a certain wisdom and clever subtlety to let the set breathe with a certain class and grace. It’s like watching a disco ball slowly hurtle towards the ground.

The shimmering pain of the magnificent “Dance Away” marks the steaming Roxy Express in Banger Central for the rest of the set. All aboard! From the pop-noir perfection of “More Than This” and “Avalon,” to the strutting proto-punk of “Editions Of You” and the real booty of the classic space pump “Virginia Plain,” John’s glamorous cover Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ and the dapper finale ‘Do The Strand’, the final act alone would be the ultimate Glasto legend slot. Keep them crossed – if only in the hope that tonight isn’t the last we’ve seen of these all-time greats.

Roxy Music played:

‘From nowhere’
“The Fake Man”
“While my heart is still beating”
‘Oh yes’
“If there is anything”
“In every dream house, a heartache”
‘The main thing’
‘My only love’
“To Excite You”
‘Dance Away’
‘More than that’
‘Love is the drug’
“The Editions of You”
“Virginia Plain”
‘Jealous guy’
‘Do the strand’

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