Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ray Davies, Supper Club, NYC, November 28, 2005

Ray Davies, Supper Club, NYC, November 28, 2005
by Jason Gross

Oh Ray... even after all these years, disappearances, failed comebacks, family and band spats, you are still the consummate entertainer when you want to be. Just like Macca and Mick, you can even put out a respectable record now but who would have thought that we'd see you do a small club show and manage to wow us all again?

Granted that you're my mom's age by now and many of the crowd looked even older than her or you, but you looked so damn youthful and sprightly- did Dick Clarke lead you to some Faustian pact to forestall aging? And yes, you did that Yo La Tengo gig not too long ago but now you actually have a new record to celebrate. And no, I can't imagine any of the '90's Brit-pop without your tunes as a cornerstone or know anyone else who's been covered by David Bowie, Van Halen, the Raincoats, the Pretenders, the Jam, Herman's Hermits, Blur, Big Star and the Fall.

And don't you know how to play us like a book? I mean, starting off with a B-side that's become a concert staple and an anthem for independence and individuality like "I'm Not Like Everybody Else"? Did you know how loudly we'd be singing along with the chorus, finding not just ourselves there but also bolstering your position as a perennial outsider in the biz? My god man, you had us by that first song.

We expected some tunes from your recent EP, "Thanksgiving Day" and you had them in there but they didn't sound bad and didn't break the momentum of the oldies much. But such an English chap like you celebrating a Yank holiday? How perverse!

And no opening act, just two hours of you, plus your new trio- a good old guitar/bass/drums line-up like your old band. And while these youngsters weren't the Kinks (though guitarist Mark Jones did shred nicely), what are the Kinks anymore or are they anymore? There would be you, your brother Dave plus... a rhythm section you put together. We know you're the lead man, the brains and such but you heard people should out for your errant sibling 'cause he's the heart of the band.

But no matter 'cause you know how to bring a house down yourself. You could have just run through the hits that the radio keeps spewing out but after the opener, you kept stepping up with these wonderful little gifts to us real, old fans like a... set of songs all from the "Village Green" album! Yes, we did want to hear "Picture Book" and not just because of the recent commercial but the nice readings of "Johnny Thunder" (who you called your hero) and the touching "Animal Farm" more than made up for it. Or chestnuts from the very cult album "Muswell Hillbillies" like "20th Century Man" and "Oklahoma USA." And wasn't it lovely to hear you dig up other little favorites like "Dead End Street" (a natural sing-a-long) and "Tired of Waiting For You" (one of your most beautiful songs)?

And how you teased us with "You Really Got Me," telling stories about the song (how a record exec thought Dave's guitar sounded like a barking dog) and then doing a lounge version before roaring into the real thing... And leaving "Lola" for the inevitable encore where you know that all of us were going to shout along with you... Or how you stopped to let us all sing the verses to "Sunny Afternoon"... Or how you waited to the end to unfurl your most heart-warming tunes like "Days" and "Waterloo Sunset"... Or the Harry Belafonte "Banana Boat" call-and-response you had us do on "All Day and All of the Night"... And yes, you knew how to get our sympathy with a touching observation about the biz: "(We) couldn't get a deal in the beginning... (it's the) same now!"

But ending off with "Low Budget"? Yeah, that was your late '70's comeback and it's always good to tie it to hard times but it ain't up to your other classics or even some of your new tunes. But all's forgiven- you nicked us for sixty-five bucks and we got every penny's worth out of you for it. And right back at ya- we thank for the days...