Sunday was the long awaited Ray Davies show. We all went, it was required course work in the family musical education. The three boys in the family have been exposed to Ray Davies and the Kinks for their entire lives. Poor Michelle has also had to suffer this slight obsession, I don’t think that there has been a day that the music of Ray Davies has not been played in here. Only the Beatles may come close.
The breadth of Ray Davies songwriting is astounding, from tender love songs to punk rock rants of social commentary he covers it all. He can rock with the best and make you cry at the same time. He is obviously a contemporary of the Beatles and the Stones but has a totally unique Englishness to his writing, he does not Americanize his accent unless it is to make a point. The majority of his songs seem to cover the concerns of the working classes, you can’t avoid class when listening to Davies, and the sense of loss of culture the English sometimes experience.
Back to the show, it was an astounding display of Ray Davies’ ability as a front-man and songwriter. His voice has never really been a big rock voice so it seems to have stood up better than some of his contemporaries. He can still express the anger of 20th Century Man, the disenfranchisement and confrontational quality of I’m Not Like Everybody Else and the tenderness of Waterloo Sunset. He looked totally comfortable on stage and gratified that the audience seemed to know every word he was going to sing, although there was anger in the songs the show was an affirmation of Davies and his talent as well as a confirmation of his place as in my opinion as one of the most important songwriters of the last century and this. Davies hit all the hot spots of his career, some of the less obvious choices too. He was able to leave out Lola and The Village Green Preservation Society and still satisfy the audience with his choices. It was amazing that you could see this man in a theater that has a 620 capacity, of course it has always astounded me that Ray Davies still remains as obscure as he is and yet ask people and they will know many Kinks songs not just one.
July 15th was declared Ray Davies day in Portland, although the mayor seems to be going for a day for everything, we didn’t find out about this until after but I hope Ray had a great day, he definitely deserves it.
2 thoughts on “20th Century Man”
Saw RDD at Mountain Winery in Saratoga (CA) last night… He was in fine form, being much tighter with The 88 band than he ever was with the fractious Kinks! Still, I hope they do get together next year for a 50th Anniversary Tour! I will go to the ends of the earth to see it.
I would love to see the Kinks reform but it looks less likely as time passes. But then again you never know and I too may move heaven and earth to be there.