Roxy Music. CREDIT: Matthew Becker
NME: Hello Phil! So, 50 years is an obvious anniversary for a tour, but how long had you actually been planning it all?
Manzanera: “Virtually no time at all. I went round to Bryan’s place for a cup of tea last Christmas and he said: ‘Shall we do some gigs?’ I told him: ‘So long as you really want to do this, I’m up for it.’ I rang Andy, then Paul, and here we are. It’s the 50th anniversary, what else are we going to do? At our age, some people do sudoku, but we fiddle around rehearsing Roxy tracks.”
How hard is it condensing eight albums into a 105-minute setlist?
“You can only play a maximum of 20 songs before people start losing the will to live. Then you have to look at the difference between the first Roxy album and [1982 album] ‘Avalon’. How Roxy went from one style to another is another conversation, but there’s a great expression in Spanish that means: ‘A journey without any destination.’ That was Roxy’s thing, and you have to balance all of that in the show.”
How challenging is it to work out how to play songs you wrote in your 20s, now you’re in your 70s?
“We don’t want to do a Bob Dylan, where people sit there thinking: ‘What song is this?’ until he gets to the chorus and you go: ‘Oh, it’s that one!’ As a punter, I don’t want that experience. I want to hear the musicianship, but really I want to hear the songs as they are on the record.
“I have had to relearn what to play, and I listen back to early songs like ‘ReMake/ReModel’ and think: ‘How was I allowed to play that guitar part? It’s just bonkers!’ I listen to my 21-year-old self and think: ‘The nerve of that guy! I’m meant to serve the song, but I’m playing all over Brian Eno.’”
Was there any chance Brian Eno could have been involved in this tour?
“We love Brian to bits and I still communicate with him a lot, but Brian said from the beginning that he was a small, independent mobile unit, to which I added, ‘From the planet Zog.’ Brian is an amazing, unique person who wasn’t designed to be in a band. He finds it terribly awkward, so one is hesitant to say: ‘Fancy going on tour?’
“Wouldn’t it be great if Brian came on for a few numbers at a show? In a dreamworld, that’d be perfect. But Brian just isn’t that kind of guy and it’s not going to happen.”
What has the experience been like of having