Bryan Ferry is a treasure of modern music. With a slew of impressive solo efforts, the 68-year-old Roxy Music vocalist has still got ‘it’ in spades over his youthful contemporaries. I witnessed the man’s magic when he brought his cache of classics to Hollywood’s Greek Theatre in 2011. He hadn’t played L.A. in 10 years; he absolutely killed it. And he’s still making new music.
At 8 p.m. April 12, Las Vegans will get the rare and wondrous opportunity to see a genuine legend seducing an audience with ineffable song. Ferry will perform at the Pearl at the Palms ($49-$99, 944-3200) as part of his first North American tour in three years. The show will offer an array of songs from his 40-year career, including Roxy Music and his solo work. In anticipation of this aural delight, here are some of my favorite Ferry moments:
It was winter of 1975, and Roxy Music was playing the Hollywood Palladium in support of their fifth LP, Siren. FM airwaves bristled with the hit single, “Love Is the Drug,” but for me, the entire record represented vinyl transcendence into seditious sonic realms.
I was dead center, about a third of the way back on the floor, as the lights went down. Guitarist Phil Manzanera’s grinding opening strains to “Sentimental Fool” raised the heartbeats of 4,000 Roxy faithful. My gaze shifted stage right as the verse approached. There was Ferry, clad in full Safari garb, microphone grasped tightly in right hand. He was the coolest rock star I’d ever seen. But his voice closed the deal: Surely you cannot be leading me on/Well if that’s so, however can I love again?/How could I believe again/How can I hold on?
Two hours later, I slithered out onto Sunset Boulevard, emotionally spent, deflowered by post-modern music’s Sinatra. In the following days I collected the previous four LPs—visionary works that featured boy genius Brian Eno on tapes and synthesizers as well as the magnificent sax playing of Andy MacKay. A Ferry poster went up in my room right next to David Bowie—twin mod-rock avatars from different sons.
The May night in 1982 when Roxy Music’s Avalon went on sale at Tower Records on the Sunset Strip, I battled the throng and got my vinyl personally inscribed by Ferry. I didn’t think it was possible to produce a more passionate and complete long play than 1975’s Siren, but Avalon was 45 minutes of bliss. To this day, rock ’n’ roll has produced no finer first-date romantic background score. “More Than This” remains arguably the sexiest ballad ever recorded. Call me a sentimental fool, but I hope he plays it on April 12.