The notion of seeing Roxy Music live in concert seemed like a complete fantasy at the dawn of 2022, one of those "Wouldn’t it be great if (pick a name) toured again?” music-specific daydreams. Only a handful of bands whose members still live and breathe seemed immune to the seductive pull of the "reunion tour" — Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin come to mind, as did Roxy Music.
That is, until the impossible happened and Roxy Music announced a 50th anniversary reunion tour with a DFW date. On Friday night at the American Airlines Center, the band’s core quartet — singer Bryan Ferry, guitarist Phil Manzanera, oboist/saxophonist Andy Mackay and drummer Paul Thompson — put to rest any doubt that such an event was impossible.
Despite only the lower portion of the area bowl being open for an audience — and the entirety of the sections opposite the stage covered by black tarp — the crowd still seemed sparse, not to mention rowdy. There was a surplus of whooping and hollering that recalled an audience at a Doobie Brothers concert that contrasted the elegance onstage and off.
There was a clear distinction between fashion choices among audience members. Ostensibly in tribute to Roxy Music’s early days when they dressed in outrageous costumes and their latter days when they restricted themselves to what seemed like only the finest eveningwear, the audience was a mix of younger people wearing suits, evening dresses and flashy costumes — with some women going so far as to dress like the models Roxy Music have used on nearly every one of their album covers — while the older crowd stuck to mostly a T-shirt and cargo shorts look.
Hometown heroine St. Vincent warmed up the crowd on Friday night.
St. Vincent, aka Dallas native Annie Clark, was the opening act. The hometown heroine art-rocker wandered among the crowd during her song “New York,” sitting with and on audience members and carrying around a small child. Clark’s band included bassist/producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, whose recent credits include behind-the-boards polishing of records by Paramore, Young The Giant, M83 and a longtime collaboration with Beck.
St. Vincent's set and stage design did not vary from her most recent Daddy’s Home
album cycle. The singer toasted North Texas for helping support her development as an artist, and finished off an absolutely spectacular performance.
Annie Clark walked among the crowd and held babies at American Airlines Center.
When Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay and Thompson walked out on stage one by one, it felt like a tremendous wrong had been righted. Roxy Music is an eternal entity whose physical presence on stage we had been robbed of for two decades.
Throughout the show, the various band members smiled widely and obviously. It was clear they were having just as much fun, if not more, than the audience. Opening the show with "Re-Make/Re-Model," the first track on their self-titled LP,
it was obvious that the song and nearly all the songs that followed had been adjusted to drastically lower keys in order to accommodate Ferry’s increasingly limited voice.
St. Vincent came home to open for Roxy Music, and she killed the assignment.
While his vocals have been reduced to a simple whisper-like impassioned rasp, there is undeniable beauty in hearing Ferry’s new, older voice sing lyrics like “It was fun, for a while, there was no way of knowing, like a dream in the night, who can say where we’re going?” It didn’t feel like other acclaimed reunion tours where the bands look and sound great but seem disconnected from the mission at hand. Ferry is aware that his voice has weathered, and he makes no effort to hide the truth because it’s part of the ongoing saga. The songs don’t age; the meanings simply adjust to one’s life choices.
Ferry was older and his lyrics much wiser on Friday night.
Roxy Music’s setlist was a mix of favorites such as “More Than This,” “Avalon,” “Love is the Drug“ and even deep favorites such as “In Every Dream Home a Heartache,” Ferry’s critique of 20th-century materialism that gained a new factor of believability in the internet age when delivered by Ferry’s weathered rasp.
Instead of a young man who had everything he wanted and still wasn’t happy, Ferry sounded now like an old man who had wasted his life chasing after what he wanted and still wasn’t happy.
Most incredibly, the band’s actual kinetic performance was a well-oiled one, with nine additional members augmenting the core four, including bassist Neil Jason, who played the bass parts on Roxy Music’s swan song album Avalon
Roxy Music brought joy to the crowd at American Airlines Center.
Somehow the band was able to make a massive performance that was obviously meticulously rehearsed seem purely spontaneous.
In his book Avalon
, biographer Simon Morrison wrote that the band was making an effort to remove “chance-based elements” from their music. On stage in Dallas on Friday, just the opposite happened: The band’s instrumental breaks, sometimes resembling jams, shined when pushed to the limit. The multi-instrumental coda to “If There is Something” and the entirely instrumental “Tara” spring to mind.
When Ferry reached the end of Roxy’s hit cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” one wondered whether he would be able to whistle, as on the song's recording. In a moment of catharsis that undoubtedly led a few audience members to shed tears, Ferry whistled the end exactly as he had done on the record 40 years earlier. For most members of the audience who hadn’t even been born when Roxy Music’s last record came out, it was a powerful moment.
On Friday night, there truly was nothing more than this.
Andy Mackay was one of the original Roxy Music members who are back in 2022.
Ferry and the group played a set that was meticulous but seemed spontaneous.
Roxy Music fulfilled our dreams on Friday night.
Roxy Music brought out a mixed crowd on Friday.