KINKS KLASSICS LIVE Ray Davies

The erstwhile Kinks
mainman caught in full flight in Miami, Nov. 29, on his current solo tour.

 

 

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

 

It’s a sad fact, but inevitably all too true. Any concert by
Ray Davies, erstwhile leader of the Kinks and perhaps one of the greatest pop
composers of the 20th century, is bound to disappoint. Why? Because
for every classic he offers in live performance, and no matter how ample his
set, ultimately there will be several that he’s forced to omit, much to the
chagrin of diehard devotees who have followed his prodigious career over the
course of some 45 years. Discouraging? 
Yes… but how could it be otherwise?

 

That was indeed the case at Davies’ late November stopover
at the Fillmore in Miami Beach, the second night of an abbreviated national
tour that gives him the first real opportunity to mix in a handful of
selections from his belated solo career — a career that Davies himself noted
with some astonishment, mocked or otherwise, is a scant two years old. Nevertheless,
it was clearly those Kinks Klassics that the faithful came to hear and their
level of satisfaction was inevitably reflected by how fierce a fan they were.

 

After a frenzied opening set by Locksley, a young
Brooklyn-based band that had the looks, the hooks and general persona that
effectively made them dead ringers for Davies’ own outfit early on, the man
himself strode onstage to the cheers of the crowd, broadly acknowledging their
hurrahs with an affable wave and good natured nod.  Performing as a duet with guitarist Bill
Shanley, his steady accompanist since the Storyteller tours of several years
back, Davies displayed his characteristically wry humor early on.  “I asked my agent to book me in some little
clubs and coffeehouses,” he remarked, glancing at the Fillmore’s trademark
chandeliers. “But this looks like a casino!”

 

Regardless, the intimate environs of the Fillmore —
recently refurbished as a world-class concert venue following years of decay as
a second string venue for lavish musicals and the MOR mainstream — was a
perfect setting for Davies and his sit-down repertoire.  Peppering his songs with seemingly
off-the-cuff comments and the occasional request (most of which seemed tipped
towards the evergreen “Waterloo Sunset,” which, reports say, was neglected the
night before in Tampa, but happily performed here), Davies trolled mainly from
the earliest entries in his extensive catalogue, opening with acoustic
renditions of “I Need You,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” and “‘Til the
End of the Day” before pausing for “After the Fall,” “a song about retribution
and guilt” culled from his solo debut Other
People’s Lives
.  The Kinks Katalogue
then got a second go-round with “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “Dedicated
Follower of Fashion,” and “Muswell Hillbilly,” interrupted only by another Other People’s Lives offering, “The
Tourist,” which he claimed was written during his ill-fated residency in New
Orleans.

 

Mostly though, this was a show peppered with nostalgia, a
sentiment Davies was compelled to allude to repeatedly.  He waxed nostalgically about his brother
Dave, with whom he bore a tempestuous relationship that became legendary
throughout most of the Kinks’ Kareer. 
Having apparently mellowed, he dedicated the middle bridge of
“Workingman’s Café,” the title tune from his most recent album, to his former
foil and unflappable guitar slinger.  Not
to be undone by undue emotion, he followed with a pair of songs about
addictions, the rowdy sing-along “Demon Alcohol” and “The Morphine Song,” penned
while recovering from a gunshot wound suffered in the Crescent City after he
attempted to abort a robbery.

 

In Dave’s absence, Shanley proved an able sideman, whether
adding a second layer of deft acoustic guitar or hammering out electrifying
leads and strident instrumental riffs as needed to accent the sharper edges in
Davies’ designs.  A scorching solo in
“Low Budget” and some riveting six string interplay in “20th Century
Man” showed without question that Shanley had indeed earned his salary.  Nevertheless, Davies himself was forced to
concede that his old band still held a special poignancy and affection in the
hearts of all who attended, and he gave the group a special shout-out as the
show wound its way to a conclusion with a series of stand-bys from their
earliest era – “Tired of Waiting,” “Set Me Free,” and “All Day and All of the
Night,” before concluding with a rowdy trio of tunes backed by Locksley – “You
Really Got Me,” a riveting “Victoria” and the inevitable “Lola.”  They gave the crowd a limited revisit to the
Kinks’ trademark mayhem, animating the audience and priming them for an
expected encore that never came. 

 

After nearly thirty songs and an hour and a half, most
performers could be forgiven for leaving on such a high note, but therein lies
the roots of dissatisfaction for the true Kinks kultists, the fan who’s scoured
every Kinks disc since the start, reveling in even the most obscure and
neglected portions of the Davies discography, at least as viewed by the world
at large.  So while the big breakthrough
hits were purveyed thoroughly, huge gaps of Ray’s repertoire went
untouched.  For every “You Really Got Me”
and “Lola,” gone unaccounted were the entirety of the fabled Village Green Preservation Society, the
optimistic illumination of “Days,” even the elegiac elegance of “Celluloid
Heroes.”  

 

As the latter song suggests, you can, perhaps, “see all the
stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard.” 
But sadly, you can’t cruise down Memory Lane and expect to hear all the
songs you want to in a single Ray Davies songfest.

 

Leave a Reply