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Bryan Ferry @ Admiralpalast, December 8th 2011
Pick any genre and you’ll quickly find a geek’s musical Jesus (except metal – we have Satan – oh, and dubstep). Bit unsure of both your sexual preferences and music taste? Lady Gaga. Enjoy hearing cats being dragged through broken glass? Bob Dylan. Borderline paedophile? Maroon 5. Like lookin’ good, moving like a dance floor Zeus and smelling like bottled gold? Motherpimpin’ Bryan Ferry.
Taking time off from making it acceptable to wear H&M and naming his bizarrely-monikered fox hunting kids, the sometime Roxy Music singer was back in town to make Berlin males jealous and impregnate all the remaining XX chromosomes. All in attendance were there to worship at the altar of Ferry!
Dipping into his solo stuff via Roxy classics and some tasty cover versions, The Fezzster (who only lets two people call him that, me and my dreams) swooned around the stage rockin’ that old man’s rockin’ that only old man rockers can rock. With nought but a cheeky sidewards smile at his captivated audience, evolution finally rendered physical reproduction utterly worthless.
Supported by a full band of fit dancers, guitar shredders, drummers plucked directly from the Stone Age and gorgeous multi-instrumental-mentally-fit-saxophone-ladies-in-leather-hot-pants everyone in attendance witnessed ear magic not heard since the last time Bryan Ferry played Berlin. So long you lush lothario you…
Occupants documents conflicted parts of the world. When you visited the divided city of Berlin with Black Flag, what were your thoughts?
I didn’t understand how anyone would build a wall around a city to keep people in or out. It seemed to me that the people running the show were very immature and in need of a change in direction. Every time I was there, I would walk along the wall, in disbelief that it was still there. I was in Switzerland when it came down. I think I was in Berlin a few days before.
You’ve been to Berlin many times since – have you seen changes in the city?
As far as I can see, it’s just another cool looking German city now. When the wall was up, there was a romance to it. However, seeing what people had to live through, I would go without the romantic element for the emancipation of people. It is to me, a very beautiful city.
Will you have time to explore (and photograph) the city when you visit, or is it a case of in-perform-out?
On tour, I am pretty much all about the show. There won’t be any time to look around, I’m afraid.
In Black Coffee Blues you wrote that traveling sometimes made you feel like a “perfect stranger, like I was born to be forever isolated from them”. That’s something we expats understand. Does that ever change? Over the years, have your travels made you feel more connected with the world and its inhabitants?
Not really. I travel alone all over the world and feel OK in it but never really connected with it. I like people very much but have never felt all that close to them. I like to be in front of them, serving them but I don’t really know many.
In a column linked to your awesome KCRW radio show, you recently named Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy and Lou Reed’s Berlin as the perfect soundtracks to the “cooling off period” of fall. When you visit us, we’ll be well into our brutal winter – what should we Berliners be listening to then?
Nico. Listening to Nico when in Germany is for me, one of those geeked-out rituals that I always try to do. The Burning The Ice album of Die Haut featuring Nick Cave is also a good one. Kluster is always good in cold weather.
For people that haven’t heard/seen your spoken word before, what should they expect?
I am going to be onstage talking about where I have been, what I have seen and how I feel about all of that. That’s basically what I do.
I grew up listening to The Boxed Life over and over, and I’ve just been catching up with your recent spoken word releases. There seems to be a shift in focus from the personal to the political – does this outward-looking viewpoint come with age?
I think it’s part of traveling as I do and being older, I am less interested in myself and more interested in everything else.
1. Speak German
I’m aware that I talk a lot about *trying* to learn German, but haven’t done much in this direction since my last lesson, over six months ago. Instead of aiming for something so vague and open-ended, I’m going to get out there, use what German I do have, and hoffentlich pick up some more.
2. Introduce myself
I like meeting new people, but I’ve always been shit at greeting them. I may be unsure about whether I should be shaking your hand, kissing your cheek (twice?) or, I don’t know, dry-humping your leg, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t part ways at least knowing each other’s names.
3. Exercise every day
There are a lot of advantages to working from home, but *not* becoming a fat bastard isn’t one of them. I’m never going to “buff up” but a daily run or walk (at least downstairs!) will help my health – physical and mental – no end.
4. See more of my family
Prepare to be shocked: I’ve only seen my two year-old niece twice, and I’ve NEVER met her one year-old sister. The selfish bitches haven’t visited us in Berlin once! Maybe I should be visiting my family more often…
5. Sort out my style
Before you rush to defend my wardrobe (anyone?), there’s probably an age (and decade) past which men shouldn’t wear skinny jeans. And if I don’t commit to resolution #3, pretty soon I’ll look like an onion stuck on top of two toothpicks. Anyone with ideas about how to maintain a heavy metal edge in your 30s and not look ridiculous, get in touch ASAP.
1. Take more photos
With Berlin as my subject this really shouldn’t be that hard. But every time I set the alarm to get up for one of those apparently amazing sunrises, I snooze right through it. Next year I shall be a proper legit photographer and get up crazy early to take pictures of landscapes and crap and hate every minute of it. Huzzah!
2. Get out of the apartment more
Freelancers out there will sympathise with this one. Working from home has its perks (sweatpants as second skin, rolling out of bed and into the “office” and showering very VERY irregularly), but it also has downsides. A lack of human contact (James doesn’t count) means I’m losing the few social skills I used to have. In 2012 I’m going to get up, get ready and see REAL LIFE PEOPLE. And maybe even chat to them if I’m feeling brave.
3. Get out of Berlin more
Now you all know how much we love Berlin (no duh). With so many amazing things to see and do all over the city it’s easy to remain in our lovely little bubble and never leave the place. But to be within a two-hour plane journey of places like Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Stockholm and to not see them, is just totes ridick.
4. Get a dog
Berlin you evil wench you, you’ve made me want to get a dog! Maybe it’s the change in lifestyle and the need for an aid to resolution #2, or the fact that dogs seem to be permitted everywhere in Berlin and I’m constantly being exposed to cute, furry little things. Whatever it is, I got the bug. Just for the hell of it I asked our landlord whether we could have a dog, and she actually said yes (only in Berlin!) so watch this space dog lovers.
5. Go clubbing at Berghain
Although I’ve been to Berghain many times for gigs, I’ve never actually been clubbing there. I know, GASP. This may be a Berlin “must-do” for any techno lover but every time a trip was planned I always seemed to be in London for work. After being here over a year and never pumping fists within its sweaty walls, or seeing the sun rise through bleary eyes, I feel like a fraud. Well no more I say!