Belatedly catching up now on something I intended to blog about earlier…
The legendary Kinks frontman and one of the all-time great rock songwriters, Ray Davies, performed a pretty delightful concert Nov. 11 at the Chicago Theatre. His new record, See My Friends, is one of those concept duet albums, featuring various stars singing or performing together with Davies on classic Kinks songs. Thankfully, the concert was just Davies and his backup musicians.
The show began with Davies playing eight and a half songs in mostly acoustic versions, backed by guitarist Bill Shanley. This intimate section of the show was really the high point of the night for me, packed with fantastic songs such as “Waterloo Sunset.” The half song was “Victoria,” which led into Davies reading a short bit of his autobiography, which led into “20th Century Man” as the full band took the stage. Davies’ band this time was The 88, who did a good job of sounding like the Kinks, keeping things a little bit loose as they nimbly responded to Davies’ occasional pauses to banter in the middle of songs. The 88 also played a nice opening set of somewhat Kinks-esque pop-rock songs.
As much as I enjoy hearing Davies talk about his songs and make jokes, at times his banter awkwardly interrupted the music. When Davies and his band ripped into the more rocking numbers, such as “You Really Got Me,” this 67-year-old Davies bounced around the stage like a much younger man.
Davies jested that he would fine himself $5 every time he mentioned the Kinks, but in truth, this show was essentially Davies doing a Kinks concert without the rest of the Kinks. He played only one of his recent solo songs (“Imaginary Man”), instead performing an excellent cross-section of the Kinks’ vast catalogue. At one point, someone in the crowd shouted out, “Where’s Dave?”
“Where’s Dave?” Davies replied. “Asleep. When he’s asleep, he can’t do any damage.”
A good-natured barb aimed at his brother. But it really would be nice to see Ray and Dave Davies playing together onstage again someday.
SET LIST: I Need You / I’m Not Like Everybody Else / Sunny Afternoon / Dedicated Follower of Fashion / Waterloo Sunset / See My Friends / Apeman / A Long Way From Home / Victoria (excerpt) + reading from X-Ray / 20th Century Man / David Watts / This Is Where I Belong / Where Have All the Good Times Gone / Till the End of the Day / Nothin’ in the World Can Stop Me Worrying ’Bout That Girl / Too Much on My Mind / All Day and All of the Night / Misfits / Full Moon / Celluloid Heroes / Imaginary Man / Muswell Hillbilly / You Really Got Me / ENCORE 1: Low Budget / ENCORE 2: Lola