INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
"Craft is what enables you to be successful
when you're not inspired." - Brian Eno
Disc DECEMBER 30, 1972 - by Lisa Robinson
FERRY ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
Roxy Music had only been in New York one day but their minds were already blown. It's so fabulous, said Rik Kenton at the lunch Warner Brothers Records tossed in their honour. I mean everything is just too much, it happens so fast, and the TV - the TV is incredible. Especially the commercials; which are really like part of the programmes. There are so many commercials!
Warner Brothers had one of the ludicrous luncheons where most of the rock press stands around and looks at the band, a few braver souls go over to one or two of the musicians and talk, the band stand around and talk to each other, and everyone has a free lunch. There were a few notable exceptions - magical interludes in an otherwise predictable situation. One was when the incorrigible rock writer Robert Meltzer presented Eno with a sponge moulded in jello, another was when Roxy's charming and impressive booking agent, Frank Barsalona, modelled his gorgeous new Persian broadtail coat.
I have all new teeth, said Eno in one of the more memorable moments of the afternoon. You always read about these press reception things in the British press, mumbled Andy Mackay. It's always Keith Moon looning about or something, people throwing food at each other... We looked around but nothing so interesting was happening.
But I digress. Roxy were only in New York for less than another twenty-four hours, because they had to go to Athens, Ohio for the start of an incredible tour that would last less than a month and take them to over sixteen cities. Cities like Chattanooga, Louisville, Milwaukee, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and on and on. With groups like Edgar Winter, Humble Pie, Steve Miller, Jethro Tull, Malo, and The Allman Brothers. Roxy Music are really getting to see America this, their first time here.
That evening a dinner had been arranged for the band. It turned out that the fourteen people assembled in Romeo Santa's restaurant consisted of the band and a few friends. After what seemed like the longest time getting served and eating the food, Eno began to get nervous. What am I doing here? This is my first time in New York and I'm sitting in a bloody restaurant. I feel as if there are magnets surrounding the entire building and I'm trapped in here!!! I want to go to Harlem, I want to go to 42nd Street, I want to go downtown, uptown! Why didn't he? I was told it wasn't safe.
A woman came over to our table in the restaurant. I hope you don't mind my asking, she said, but we've all been wondering just exactly... what are you? What is this occasion, is it a bachelor party - or a seminar class? I am not making this up, this truly happened, and Bryan and Andy simply oozed charm as they told her who they were, and what they were doing there and that she should come to see them at Madison Square Garden Friday night and buy their LP for her kids. My mum sells records for us all the time by talking to people about the group, Andy confided to one. Really - she's always going into the newsagent and they'll tell her if there's a story about us in the papers that week.
Two nights later Roxy Music opened the show for Jethro Tull at Madison Square Garden. It was, perhaps, an unfortunate booking for the band, especially for their first New York show. For the fourteen thousand fans who attended the concert were there to see Jethro - and when you pay £3 for a ticket to come to the Garden, you're not particularly interested in the opening act. Now, if there are eighteen thousand people in attendance, and five thousand of those people enjoyed Roxy (which is a conservative estimate, more did) - that in itself would be an impressive Now York debut. But, in truth, most of the audience just wanted to see Jethro, and Roxy didn't have much of a chance.
It was rumoured that they didn't have much of a sound check either, for those who stayed to hear Jethro Tull said that the sound system was obviously far superior for the second half of the show than when Roxy was on. And Mott The Hoople, who went backstage to say hello to Roxy, said that they were told that Roxy was given no chance for a sound check, and after they were playing for about twenty-five minutes someone from Tull's organisation told them if they didn't stop they would have their plugs pulled out. Rumours... but quite possibly true.
At any rate, Roxy did their best, and that consisted of the more rocking of their songs, Virginia Plain, Re-Make/Re-Model, Would You Believe? and The Bob (Medley). They were quite good, even with the sound problems and I think that they'll find that they picked up quite a lot of new fans here. Hopefully, the rest of their tour will be planned differently - if they had performed in a hall that held two thousand people - or even a bit less, it would have been sensational.