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None of the photographs on this page may be reproduced in any form whether printed or electronic or on any other media without the written permission of both Expression Records and the members of Roxy Music
he Lancaster Room in the Savoy Hotel - a confection of cream and crystal. White waistcoated waiters slide discreetly across the thick carpets, proffering the tiniest canapés on silver salvers so sheen you could use them as a shaving mirror. Others carefully carry platters heavy with liquid refreshment: wines - red, white, rosé and Champagne - and, perhaps because it is lunchtime, tall glasses of sparkling mineral water, topped with the thinnest sliver of lime.
By the entrance, harassed technicians (notable by their attire; few others are be-suited in tee-shirts and jeans) scrabble on the floor, busily connecting metres of multi-coloured cable to several mixing desks. Loudspeakers are set strategically around the large, square, high-ceilinged room. From them rings out the sound of rock band - a taut, majestic rumble from the rhythm section, clear, bell-like guitar chords, high wailing saxophone and a glycerine voice that oozes depth and cries despair.
"Any TV crew still need a sound feed, please come to the desks by the door." The voice of Bernard Doherty cuts through the music and the muted buzz of conversation. Bernard - tall, sharply suited - is the head of major league PR company LD Publicity. LD do it all: the Stones, Tina Turner, Shania Twain, The BRITS and now this.
The room is rapidly filling. At the front left is a microphoned podium. Centre stands a large screen, resplendent with a logo - a twin headed Imperial eagle, clutching in each golden talon an orb and sceptre. At right, behind a low glass table, sit three low slung chairs - as yet, empty. In the body of the room people stand, nibble, sip, chat, fiddle with cameras, adjust microphones, place coats and bags on the best seats, say 'hello' and smile to those whose names they can't remember. On a riser set across the middle of the room, dozens of TV crews jostle for space and the best angle.
"The press conference will begin in two minutes. Two minutes, ladies and gentlemen." The voice again of Bernard Doherty. Conversations are abruptly ended as the audience makes a dash for their seats. The sound of the music seems to get louder as the sense of anticipation grows.
Your correspondent is by now standing at the back of the packed room, having abandoned his painstakingly reserved seat. He is standing talking to a tall, good-looking man, dressed mainly in black. Apart from a slight greying at the temples, he looks little different from when they first met nearly thirty years before. But there is nice sense of history with his presence, for this man was singularly responsible for the emergence of the band whose music still pounds from the speakers in the room. Back then he was a writer for the leading weekly music paper in Britain - the Melody Maker. Now, Richard Williams is the doyen of British sports writers, but still the same quiet, charming and amusing man of old. Their reminiscences are interrupted by another announcement from Mr Doherty. "Ladies and gentleman, please meet Mr John Giddings - the promoter of the Roxy Music World Tour 2001!"
John Giddings enters stage left and proceeds to the podium. At the same moment, the eagle disappears and John's giant image appears on the central screen. It falls to John to read the official press release. He is slight, neat and bespectacled and the bearer of news that millions of music fans the world over have longed to hear for nearly 20 years:
"Roxy Music announce today their much anticipated return to the concert arenas for a world-wide tour that will take in twelve countries in Summer 2001."
He goes on to detail the British tour dates, starting in Dublin on Saturday, June 9th, and then outlines the itinerary for the US tour.
His statement over, attention swings to the right of the room where Bernard Doherty steps forward. Before meeting the members of the band, a short video is to be shown on the big screen, "a reminder of Roxy Music's legacy" as he puts it.
For the next five minutes, images, video and music flash before us. Roxy on stage, Roxy on TV, Roxy on video, Roxy on newspaper front pages, Roxy in the singles and album charts. Eno leaves, Jobson joins. Number 1 singles, number 1 albums. The band in glitter, the band in shirts and ties, the band in suits. And then, Roxy Music split. The film, superbly crafted by Paul King of VH-1 (with, we should point out, the majority of the clippings and photographs coming from the Roxy Music Archive), sets the tone. Even this throng of normally jaded and sceptical journalists seems excited and enthused.
Then the mirrored door in the corner of the room opens and Bernard Doherty, microphone in hand, announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, the members of Roxy Music - Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera!" There is spontaneous and genuinely warm applause.
The three, smiling somewhat nervously, take their seats, collecting microphones on the way. Bryan sits centrally, flanked on his left by Andy and on his right by Phil. They look well. All sharply dressed (as ever), Bryan's hair looks fetchingly windswept, Mackay is unseasonably tanned whilst Phil maintains the Manzanera 'shades' tradition with a pair of Mafiosi-style dark glasses.
First question comes from Paul King of VH-1 (presumably as a 'thank you' for the preceding video). In brief, it is "Why now?" Bryan explains that the performance of several Roxy songs on his recent 'As Time Goes By' tour had made him hanker after performing them again with the guys that first recorded them.
Then comes the inevitable 'flying' question which, as with a later one about suing British Airways, Bryan deflects with nonchalant and yet charming ease.
Questions then range from the predictable:
Q "What will you be playing?"
BF "We shall be playing tracks off all eight albums. There are three or four which leap out but we plan to do some of the less well-known songs as well."
AM "There are about 100 songs on our albums "
BF "But we won't be playing 100 every night!"
Through the mischievous (this from Charles Shaar Murray, late of the NME):
Q "Do you have Paul Thompson's phone number?"
BF "Yes. See us after us and we'll give it to you" (CSM was invited 'behind the scenes' after the conference where old acquaintances were renewed) .
Via the market specific:
Q "Can you say something for our Spanish speaking audience?"
BF "Phil, this one's for you I think".
PM Gabbles away nineteen to the dozen in Spanish
BF "Exactly what I would have said".
To future plans:
Q "Will you be recording a new album after the tour?"
BF "We don't know. This tour is about playing songs from the existing albums, giving our old audience a chance to hear them again and for some people a chance for the first time."
And back through 'best and worst' moments:
PM "We were in a hotel in Milan and there was a riot going on outside when we heard that Stranded had become our first number one album in Britain."
AM "Virginia Plain being so successful so early in our careers, within a couple of months of really getting started."
BF "Our first American tour. There were some pretty low moments on that."
Ending up with:
Q "Will the many sessions you did for the BBC ever be released?"
PM "I hope so. I want to get together with our label, Virgin Records, and the BBC to see what we can do about this."
There were various other stops along the way - Bryan's new album in October, why Eno wouldn't be appearing, would the show feature any scantily clad women (journalists!) - but throughout, the band answered with relentless good humour with both interviewer and interviewee being reduced to gales of laughter on more than one occasion.
Then, after 30 minutes of questioning it was done. Waving to the applauding audience, they retreated into the bowels of the Savoy hotel, there to be subjected to another three hours of interviews for TV, radio and the papers.
In the Lancaster Room, the music had re-started. Little groups of people eddied round the room, pecking at the remnants of the canapés, knocking back the last glasses of wine. The consensus was encouraging. The conference had gone well. The press were positive. The re-launch had achieved escape velocity.
The story of the Roxy Music World Tour 2001 had begun.
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