Ray Davies has always been rockšs most sophisticated showman, a true racontuer with a flair for the dramatic. As leader of the Kinks, he developed a wild, technicolor stage persona quite unlike that of any other rock star, incorporating elements of English vaudeville, low-down sleaze, show-biz gimcrackery and satirical self-parody.
But we see a different side of Davies in his brilliant Autobiographical show, "The Soryteller," which opened a five-night run Last night.
The venerable rocker doesn't hide behind a persona but rather reveals himself in a highly personal, vulnerable wauy. He shows how songs he wrote for the Kinks expressed sometimes subconciously, his view of life, his struggles and inner turmoils.
The show is not as frank or as probing as his remarkable autobiography, "X-Ray," on which it is based. Although "The Storyteller" grew out of readings he began giving shortly after the book was published about a year ago, he leaves out most of its darker elements.
He can"t even bring himself to mention the name of his first wife or His children, even though his relationship with them is central to the book. He also avoids horrific stories of physical and mental breakdowns, which are some of the narratives most gripping passages.
Perhaps these stories are too painful to relive again. Or maybe Davies wants to keep the show upbeat.
And it is a thoroughly entertaing evening, with a happy ending that left last night's adoring crowd standin, clapping and cheering long after the tall, shaggy-haired rock legend strode off the stage. There were even some tears here and there.
Many of the Kinks greatest songs came up during the show, which ran about 2 1/2 hours, with an intermission. "You Really Got Me" is the center of the piece, and a recurring theme. "Lola" is of course, a highlight. But it"s the lesser known songs and the several new ones written for this production, that best tell Davies' story. Listening to him put them into the context of his life, made them richer and deeper. He made even old, die-hard fans hear familiar songs anew.
As he told stories, both from the book and memory, he began to imitate the characters, and showed himself to be quite an actor. His thumbnail descriptions and imitations brought them alive in a way the book does not.
"The Storyteller" is the kind of summing-up performance we're going to see more of as rock's key figures age. But it's unlikely that anyone will carry it off as movingly as Ray Davies.
Concert review by Patrick Macdonald
Seattle Times, Wednesday, October 30, 1996