TONIGHT: Bryan Ferry Makes Local 518 Concert Debut @ Proctors
By Don Wilcock
Now that we’ve recovered from Schenectady’s smoking manhole crisis, it’s official – Bryan Ferry will make his long-overdue Greater Nippertown concert debut at Proctors at 8pm tonight (Thursday, March 30), the 11th stop of a 13-date U.S. tour. He’ll perform a varied set list including highlights from his Roxy Music days, hits from his solo back catalog, as well as music from his latest album Avonmore.
Although best known in the U.S. for his days with Roxy Music (1971-1983), Ferry released 15 solo studio albums between 1973 and 2014. Although none of his solo albums cracked the Top 50 in the United States, he is much better known in England.
1981’s Avalon was Roxy Music’s eighth and final studio album. It was also their biggest American hit. The title cut features a lush, almost classical sound with Ferry’s smooth croon that was prescient in its influence on today’s dance music.
I will always associate that single with my son playing the track as we drove the winding road up to his hilltop home in Malibu overlooking L.A. – the perfect setting for the dreamy, spacy, Vaseline smoothness caressed by Ferry’s almost Sinatra-like vocals, the meaning of which is known only to him: When the samba takes you/Out of nowhere/And the background’s fading/Out of focus/Yes the picture changing/Every moment/And your destination/You don’t know it/Avalon.
Ferry talked about the album to Mix: “I’ve often thought I should do an album where the songs are all bound together in the style of West Side Story, but it’s always seemed like too much bother to work that way. So instead, I have these 10 poems, or short stories, that could, with a bit more work, be fashioned into a novel. Avalon is part of the King Arthur legend and is a very romantic thing, when King Arthur dies, the Queens ferry him off to Avalon, which is sort of an enchanted island. It’s the ultimate romantic fantasy place.”
The 71-year-old son of a farm laborer, Ferry became a student of fine art at University on Newcastle upon Tyne, taught pottery in a girl’s school, and in 2006 signed a contract with the British retailer Marks and Spencer to model their “Autograph” men’s clothing range. His sartorial interest was an anomaly to a generation of British pop music fans brought up on Rolling Stones-designed decadence but became an influence (along with his music) on David Bowie and Queen.
His latest CD, 2014’s Avonmore album, is a seductive collection of originals capped off with a pair of unlikely covers – Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” and Robert Palmer’s “Johnny & Mary.” A remix of the album released last year features artists from around the world including Leo Zero, Ray Mang, Prins Thomas, Justin Robertson, Leftside Wobble, Idjut Boys and Man Power, among others.
In 2016, he also released his first solo live album, a 2-CD set recorded during his 2015 worldwide Avonmore Tour. Bryan Ferry Live 2015 is available only through his website or at his concerts and includes “Bob Dylan’s Dream,” “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “Jealous Guy,” “He’ll Have to Go,” “Love Is the Drug” and “Do the Strand.”