In 2003, I saw a cool concert by Dave Davies of the Kinks at the Abbey Pub, but a year later, the news came that he’d suffered a stroke. I wondered if I’d ever get the chance to see him perform again. Eight years later, Davies returned to Chicago, playing Monday, Nov. 18, at City Winery and Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Evanston Space. I saw Tuesday’s show.
Davies has recovered from his stroke well enough to play the guitar again and record new music — including the recent album I Will Be Me. (The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Caro recently interviewed Davies about his album and tour.)
Davies played a few of his solo songs on Tuesday, but he largely stuck with old Kinks classics. He performed his own songwriting contributions to the Kinks catalog (“Strangers,” “Death of a Clown” and “Living on a Thin Line”), but most of the songs were written by Dave’s brother, Ray. However, it feels like Dave has a stake in their ownership, too. The sibling similarity in their vocals is unmistakable, and Dave is the one who played the famous riffs on “You Really Got Me” and other hits.
Dave’s voice was a bit ragged at moments, and his guitar playing isn’t as fleet as it once was, but these were respectable renditions of the old songs, and it was touching to see this key player from one of the truly great rock bands taking the stage again and giddily proclaiming, “I’m having a great time!”
Dave and Ray have had a contentious relationship over the years. (In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Dave said of his brother: “But I have to thank him, because if he wasn’t so fucking horrible to me I wouldn’t have understood more about life. When he was a real cunt to me all those years ago I took up astrology so I could understand why people behave like that.”)
On Tuesday, Dave said, “I want to dedicate this song to my dear brother Ray,” before playing “Young and Innocent Days,” from the 1969 Kinks album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). It sounded heartfelt as Dave sang Ray’s words: “I see the lines across your face/Time has gone and nothing ever can replace/Those great, so great/Young and innocent days.”
So, what about it, guys? Will Ray and Dave ever play together again? I hope so.
SET LIST: I’m Not Like Everybody Else / I Need You / She’s Got Everything / Little Green Amp / Tired of Waiting for You / See My Friends / Strangers / Flowers in the Rain / Death of a Clown / The Healing Boy / Young and Innocent Days / Dead End Street / Living on a Thin Line / Where Have All the Good Times Gone / All Day and All of the Night / ENCORE: You Really Got Me