Bryan's bringing his orchestra, his band, his songs and his ultimate cool
One of my most enduring teenage memories is of long dark evenings, Roxy Music's Stranded on repeat on the record player as I blew, largely un-inhaled, French cigarette smoke out my bedroom window in an effort to appear grown up enough to qualify for Bryan Ferry's in-crowd.
He laughs when I confess this childish attempt at sophistication as we talk about his forthcoming tour, which includes the global singing star's first Plymouth concert since his Dylanesque shows in 2007.
"Is it that long... time just flies away," he muses.
Bryan, now 68, reveals that his own consistently suave style came from his admiration for movie stars like Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart – "they always looked very cool" – as well as musical heroes Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.
When Bryan donned dinner jacket and bow tie, polished his shoes and slicked back his quiff in the 1970s and sang These Foolish Things, he was swimming against a tidal wave of faded flared jeans and T-shirts.
"At the time it seemed like a revolutionary statement," he recalls.
His obsession with dressing conventionally well also has its roots in his obsession with jazz music that developed as he was growing up in the 1950s.
"There was a lot of jazz going on in England at that time and I became really interested when I was about ten years old. I listened to all kinds of the stuff, from bepop through to Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong," he says. "That's how I got into music, and later my uncle used to take me to see live shows; I was very impressed with how the jazz musicians dressed to go on stage. It's like going into character."
It caused some puzzlement last year when this man renowned for his vocal prowess released The Jazz Age an instrumental album credited to the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, full of jazz versions of Roxy Music songs and solo tracks.
But to Bryan it made perfect sense to experiment in a style he knew and loved. He was particularly thrilled that as an album it works brilliantly, and Bryan was particularly thrilled that its version of Roxy Music's Love Is the Drug featured on the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann's new movie of Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
Nevertheless, Bryan understands his live audience well and confirms that he won't be replicating the album on stage for the tour, although the jazz flavour will feature in some of the arrangements. He is taking both his band and his orchestra on the road with him and promises an eclectic set of songs selected from his 40 years as a singer and songwriter.
"It's going to be something of a travelling circus and a lot of us on stage, but it makes for a very different show with many colours, from electric guitars and saxophone through to strings. It is all a great pleasure for me," he says. "This isn't the kind of work you retire from."
Bryan Ferry plays Plymouth Pavilions on November 23.