Ray Davies

Unkinked at the Orpheum
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  April 4, 2006

Sometime in the ’80s, Ray Davies told me that the Kinks were the only band who could leave an audience “over the moon with enjoyment and still . . . disappointed.” Davies no longer leads the Kinks, but some things never change. Regarding his Orpheum show a week ago Tuesday — his first non-Kinks local performance with a full backing band — I won’t complain about the lack of “Days,” “Waterloo Sunset,” or anything from Preservation. That’s thanks in part to touching, mostly acoustic versions of “Village Green” and “Picture Book” (no, it’s not just the theme for a Hewlett Packard photo-printer TV ad), a searing “20th Century Man” (even more trenchant this century), the bitter celebration of failed lives that is “Dead End Street,” and all the expected feel-good button pushers: “All Day and All of the Night,” “You Really Got Me,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?”, and the night-closing sing-along “Lola.”

After several songs, Davies greeted us with “It’s nice to be here; it’s nice to be anywhere” — an old man’s joke, yes, but also an allusion to his being shot in 2004 while chasing a mugger. At 61, with an ever-thinning head of hair, he’s still lean of body and still a ham at heart. (He can’t resist shouting “Way-o!” at odd times, then waiting for the audience echo.) But he’s also still a songwriter of great potency, as the eight songs from his new solo disc, Other People’s Lives (V2), demonstrated. “Stand Up Comic” had bite and sass; “The Getaway” (Lonesome Train)” had a bluesy sadness. And “After the Fall” and “The Morning After” suggested we had no choice but to weather life’s shitstorms and get up to face the next day.
Related: Interview: Ray Davies, Survival skills, Third impressions, More more >
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