Bryan Ferry is still infinitely cooler than the rest of us

Jesse Sublett, surrealist blues singer, Austin legend

photo of Jesse Sublett + acrylic sketch of courting grackle

UPDATE at 9 AM Thursday. Does Bryan Ferry need to redeem himself? I mean, after the disappointing “Olympia” and for not continuing to put out great releases to compare with Avalon, Stranded, These Foolish Things, Country Life, Manifesto, etc? I guess the answer is no. I admit that I was frustrated with him after Olympia, which was so awful, in my opinion, that it didn’t even bear listening to all the way through. The recent cover albums, the jazz versions, were all OK. And really, after you’ve given the world “Do the Strand” and “Virginia Plain,” “Avalon” and “Kiss and Tell,” to name just a few, I think you’re entitled to retire on your laurels. And last night, it was clear that Bryan Ferry is still vastly cooler than the rest of us, and even a Bryan Ferry who has fiddled around in the studio about 10,000,000 hours longer than necessary to come up with a new EP every five years or so, a Bryan Ferry who hires a bunch of young guns, including several proficient and inspired musicians who happen to be beautiful women, well, hell, what the hell? He’s a Picasso of rock stars, isn’t he? He’s creating masterpieces on stage in real time. He’s no Americana hipster Willie Nelson singer songwriter, is he? Nope. And that’s why I relate to him. When some of my contemporaries were letting their beards grow and wearing flannel shirts and cowboy outfit, I was following this muse. I guess I still am.

Bryan Ferry, Jesse Sublett, Surrealist blues singer

Bryan Ferry live 2014

It’s after midnight and we’re at the hotel on Wilshire Blvd, thinking about packing for our flight back to Austin, way too early in the morning. We came out here to see Bryan Ferry play at the Nokia venue in the Staple center downtown. Lois decided that we needed a break and I’ve got a big birthday coming up in May, so she bought tickets and got our hotel & air fair on credit card miles, and we came out to hang with our great friends, P&I, to do a little shopping and dining a couple of days ahead of time, plus a few other odds & ends. Last night was the blood moon, which we watched with Rocky Schenck on his patio in Beachwood Canyon. Anyway, I’ve been so busy I did no research at all about what kind of show Bryan would be doing, not even the makeup of his band.
I’ve seen Bryan Ferry about a half dozen times before, starting with the Roxy Music tour of 1975, when he stopped at the Armadillo in Austin. Other shows were at the Greek Theater in LA and the amphitheater in Santa Barbara. Those were fine, fine shows, and tonight was a revelation, an inspiration, a surrealistic illumination. The set list was heavy on Roxy Music material, starting with “Do the Strand,” as the first tune. The band was top notch and Bryan was in superb voice. He played keyboards a lot. In fact, he was back up in the back line on the keyboards singing more often than he was center stage, doing his modernistic lounge lizard moves.


I’m not going to sweat the details here. It’s late and we’ve got a flight to catch early in the AM. It was a great show by an artist who is older but still delivers the magic. Bands come and go, and so do trends and seasons and fashions, but Bryan Ferry is still super cool. “Do the Strand” and “Avalon,” “Slave to Love,” “Editions of You,” “Virginia Plain,” and “Manifesto” are still super cool, still sufficiently strange and vibrant. Reminds me of when I first picked up the bass guitar and started a band.

Blood Moon over Los Angeles



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