Roxy Music enters the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with a sublime 20-minute career-closing set


Roxy Music Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Barclays Center, New York

Evaluation:

For Roxy Music, it all happened quickly. They went from their first gig to Top Of The Pops in nine months. Their eight studio albums arrived in two bursts (1972-75 and 1979-82).

And this performance, perhaps the last in their history, ended in 20 minutes.

It had been eight years since Roxy had played together, ten years since they had released a comeback album. Bryan Ferry’s solo career, which has now lasted 45 years, fits him like a tuxedo.

It had been eight years since Roxy Music had played together, ten years since they had released a comeback album.  Bryan Ferry's 45-year solo career fits him like a tuxedo

It had been eight years since Roxy Music had played together, ten years since they had released a comeback album. Bryan Ferry’s 45-year solo career fits him like a tuxedo

But when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame beckons, most bands bury their musical differences.

Ferry brought in Roxy’s other two mainstays, guitarist Phil Manzanera and oboist Andy Mackay. Original drummer Paul Thompson was sidelined by arthritis. Original synth player Brian Eno kept his distance for decades.

When asked if the reunion could lead to a tour, Mackay replied that maybe, while Ferry objected. Thus, the Hall of Fame was shaping up as the last hurray for a pioneering group that influenced everyone from Talking Heads to Chic.

Rock was never really Roxy's thing.  All of those accusations have been made in the Hall of Fame, but it answered them with this year's inductees including Harry Styles (above)

Rock was never really Roxy’s thing. All of those accusations have been made in the Hall of Fame, but it answered them with this year’s inductees including Harry Styles (above)

It was an unlikely place for them to end up. Rock was never really Roxy’s thing – too macho, too regulated, too American. All of those accusations were made to the Hall of Fame, but he responded to them with this year’s inductees: two strong women and five idiosyncratic British bands.

The women were Janet Jackson, who gave a moving speech, and Stevie Nicks, who interrupted Fleetwood Mac’s tour to perform. As she dominated the duets with Don Henley and Harry Styles, you could see why Nicks was the first woman to enter the Hall of Fame twice.

The ceremony took place like a festival in miniature. Nicks gave way to Radiohead, represented by Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway, carrying speeches rather than instruments.

Stevie Nicks (above), who interrupted Fleetwood Mac's tour to perform, dominates the duets with Don Henley and Harry Styles.  Nicks was the first woman to enter the Hall of Fame twice

Stevie Nicks (above), who interrupted Fleetwood Mac’s tour to perform, dominates the duets with Don Henley and Harry Styles. Nicks was the first woman to enter the Hall of Fame twice

They were as lucid as David Byrne was in presenting them. Later there were sets from The Cure (alluring), The Zombies (endearing) and Def Leppard (barnstorming).

The big draw, however, was Roxy’s reunion, presented by longtime fans Simon Le Bon and John Taylor of Duran Duran. Roxy’s “journey”, Le Bon said, had been “driven by the open heart surgery that was Bryan Ferry’s lyrics writing.”

As metaphors go, it was a mezze platter.

Much of Ferry’s response was to thank his many bassists, but the music spoke louder than his words. Roxy approached the task as Queen at Live Aid, compressing an entire career into 20 minutes.

Had they watched Bohemian Rhapsody in the plane?

Ferry is not Mercury, of course. But Roxy’s work is so rich, and their playing so skillful, that these three great men, all retired now, remain a fascinating sight.

IT’S A FACT

Bryan Ferry revealed this year that the eye patch he wore while singing Love is drugs on TV was not a fashion item: he had walked through a door.

They opened, courageously, with In every dream house, a heartache, having evidently decided that America was finally ready for a stylized hymn to an inflatable lover. It was delightfully sinister, with Ferry having fun and Mackay’s sax adding a burst of sadness.

Surprises kept coming. The Faithful Pleasures of the Ferry Crowd – Virginia Plain, Make the strand, Jealous guy – were supplanted by the twisted virtuosity of Out of the blue, the strut of Love is drugs and the silky sensuality of More than this.

In 15 minutes, art had given way to the soul. Avalon, abbreviated, was still sublime, as Manzanera’s guitar wept softly and Tawatha Agee’s backing vocals touched the sky. They ended with an effervescent Editions of you.

Time, surely, for one last tour.

THIS WEEK’S CD RELEASES

By Adam Woods

The chemical brothers No geography Exit Fri

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The big beasts of '90s dance music have no particular reason to go, raising the possibility of becoming retired DJ superstars in a few years.  The vibe here is back to basics, boxing the star guests and focusing on floor-shaking grooves and sampled choruses.  Norwegian singer Aurora lends a human face to several songs, including Catch Me I'm Falling quite close

The big beasts of ’90s dance music have no particular reason to go, raising the possibility of becoming retired DJ superstars in a few years. The vibe here is back to basics, boxing the star guests and focusing on floor-shaking grooves and sampled choruses. Norwegian singer Aurora lends a human face to several songs, including the closest ones Catch me I’m falling

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Glen Hansard, sometimes frontman of Dublin's heroes The Frames, tends to wield an acoustic guitar and a moving narrative.  But her fourth solo album kicks off with a drum machine, bass guitar, strings and a menacing sotto voce voice.  More familiar ingredients gradually creep in, but there is a stormy, folkloric darkness about This Wild Willing that ultimately suits it perfectly.

Glen Hansard, sometimes frontman of Dublin’s heroes The Frames, tends to wield an acoustic guitar and a moving narrative. But her fourth solo album kicks off with a drum machine, bass guitar, strings and a menacing sotto voce voice. More familiar ingredients gradually creep in, but there’s a stormy, folkloric obscurity about This wild will which ultimately suits him

Blood of Weyes Rise of the Titanic Outside now

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