Caught In The Act
One look inside the Byrne Arena in New Jersey, and I realize that the Kinks have been together as long as most of this audience has been alive. But it would be a simplistic misreading of the Kink's career to characterize the group as survivors. The tag "survivor" implies adaptation - to fit the times and current trends. The Kinks last few albums have reflected the present popularity of boisterous arena rock (and perhaps as a result, this was the Kinks first, sold-out tour of this country's major arenas), and the title of the Kinks' current album, Give the People What They Want, is a pretty cynical comment, even by Ray Davies standards. The essence of their music and their live performance however, remains the tuneful, light-spirited English pop-rock that, combined with Ray Davies brilliant and unique mixture of good-naturedness, wistfulness and cynicism, turned their early fans into fanatics.
Due to the lack of intimate surroundings, Ray Davies' wealth of gentle, lyrical songs, including Waterloo Sunset and Better Things, his kurrent Kinks klassic were omitted. Despite the vastness of the arena, his renditions of Misfits, Art Lover, and Celluloid Heroes provided a lovely, intelligent counter- point to the exuberant rock that made up most of the Kink's over two-hour set. Davie's mime-like performance of the delicate ambiguous Art Lover and his simple, affecting delivery of Celluloid Heroes were two of the finest numbers of the concert.
A major portion of the Kinks' twenty-five song concert was drawn from their last few albums, including several songs drawn from their last few albums, including several songs from Give the People What They Want. But enough oldies were played, with a harder-rocking edge, to satisfy the fans. A special pleasure was Dead End Street, one of Ray Davies' most trenchant indictments of society, and a song even more relevant in today's age of Reaganomics.
Naturally, Ray Davies was the star of the show. Wearing a number of his typically loud outfits, he was, as always, the elongated man; spreading his arms wide; kicking his legs around him; his rubber-like face a kaleidoscope of changing expressions. The Kinks are not, however, a one-man band.
Arena rock acts such as - well, they know who they are - should check out a Kinks concert. They could learn something about getting the music across in a somewhat raucous and insistent manner, but with economy, discipline and a clarity of purpose. The rock is full-blown, without any fuss. Dave Davies' lead guitar solos were crisp, played with quicksilver speed. He would change directions any number of times during a song; he made me want to dance to lead guitar, a tough trick. The rest of the band was great, too. The Kinks kan do.
Jim Feldman, Circus Magazine, June, 1982