Friday, November 11, 2011

With Concertful of Kinks Klassics, Ray Davies Puts on a Clinic

Concert Review
Ray Davies
with The 88 (opening & backing)
November 11, 2011
Chicago Theatre, Chicago

Though still rather spry at age 67, Ray Davies isn't doing a lot he hasn't already done. At least in concert. But that's OK.

In terms of recorded output, in recent years Davies has been "re-doing" many of his classic Kinks tunes, first with a choral collection and then a compilation duets. He's also put out, in 2006 & 2007, a pair of respectable solo albums.

But on his current tour, which brought him to the Chicago Theatre on Friday night, there was no chorus, no famous guests and just one song from his solo work.

Which left his bread & butter: a boatload of great old Kinks songs, some performed acoustically with a second guitarist named Bill Shanley and the rest backed by a rock band from L.A. called The 88, who also performed a show opening set of their own material.

There are few rock canons that I love any more than that of the Kinks, so while Davies isn't doing anything particularly novel in coming through town every year or two--I've now seen him five times in the last 5 years--and rifling through a bunch of his chestnuts, I'll gladly come out to hear him. And while each of his shows has been stellar, this one was as rewarding as any, as without a new album to promote, Ray not only played more Kinks klassics, he also mined his old band's discography a bit deeper.

After an enjoyable set by the 88, Davies came onstage accompanied only by Shanley, and played "I Need You," "I'm Not Like Everybod├┐ Else," "Sunny Afternoon," "Dedicated Follower of Fashion," "Waterloo Sunset," "See My Friends" and "Apeman." Not a bad way to start.

In referencing his collection of duets, called See My Friends, he mentioned a collaboration he had done with Lucinda Williams on a lesser-known Kinks song called "A Long Way From Home," which he then played. The 88 came onstage to back him on a rollicking version of 20th Century Man, and they--along with Shanley--rolled through more Kinks treasures, like "This Is Where I Belong," "Where Have All the Good Times Gone," "Till The End of the Day" and "All Day And All of the Night."

But what I appreciated just as much was when Ray reached beyond his 60s output and into the 70s, for "Misfits," "Celluloid Heroes" and "Full Moon," a song from 1977''s Sleepwalker album that I didn't know, but still sounded great. Of course, a buzz-saw rendition of "You Really Got Me" was also wonderful, but in opening his encores with 1979's "Low Budget," Ray again re-itereated the timelessness of his best material, whatever its original time. And though at some shows on the tour, it seems he's been skipping "Lola," I was certainly glad he came out for a second encore and played that one. (Full setlist on

I realize I don't have much to say about this show beyond what was played. But when one of your favorite singer/songwriters plays 2 hours of entirely wonderful music, there isn't a whole lot to complain about. Sure, I could always name 10 other songs that would have been "nice to hear". And though I don't think the public is truly demanding it, a Kinks reunion could be nice to see. But sometimes you needn't worry about Something Else and just enjoy being Face to Face with a living legend doing what he does.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review. I've been doing a lot of searching to find a review Friday night's show. This was the first time I've seen Ray or the Kinks so I can't compare it to other shows, but I have to say he was "on" Friday nightt at the Chicago Theatre. It was great to hear Misfits, Sunny Afternoon and Waterloo Sunset, along with the other ones. I thought Imaginary Man, one of the new ones, was excellent. And, we got both Musswell Hillbillies and embarrassment of riches!

Anonymous said...

Great review. I can hear it all now. Wish I had been there.

Bobster said...

Seth--terrific picture!

SweetLadyGeneieve said...

God Save Em'!

Anonymous said...

I really liked the backing 88 gave him. They're a good combo.

Elias Sauza said...

This is the third time I see Ray. Reading your great review is like experiencing the show once more. Even when I've been a Kinks fan for many years (in fact, I learned English because of The Kinks music), I never had a chance to see them live, and perhaps I'll never do as a band reunion seems nearly impossible. But fortunately Ray is still around delighting his fans all over the world with his (Kinks) treasures.

Anonymous said...

seen every Chicago area Kink show (except one) since '69 - plus all the solo Ray or Dave shows. Getting up in my years now but I still haven't left a show without wearing a wide grin on my face ~