Review - Ray Davies, April 29, 2001, Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, UK
Date: May 2, 2001 1:20 PM
From: Carrie Gooch
My God, Ray can be amazingly AMAZINGLY FANTABULOUS!!!
Yes, as you may have guessed, I was one of the lucky ones to go to the rescheduled Ray Davies Storyteller gig at the Liverpool Philharmonic yesterday (Sun 29th).
Well, what can I say? For one thing, Ray was in fine voice! As though he were trying to make up for the disappointment of last month! For those of you who went to any of the gigs where he was well, especially the Manchester one, you will know how well he was singing, and I know many said that it was the best Storyteller gig they had heard. Well, think about the gig(s) you went to, then try, if possible to think about it being better. Hard? Yes, I thought it would be IMPOSSIBLE to recreate the majesty that was that gig, Ray sounding wonderful, but my God, if he didnt grind that gig into the dirt with his performance!!!
Arrived outside the Philly at just slightly after 3pm at the artists entrance, to the faint strains of Rays sound check wafting out. Ellie and I hung round outside in almost full 60s regalia (well, Ellie's was proper 60s, mine was acting the part), eyes painted to the max. We waited round with another fan who was already there for a while, then out into the warm Mersey sunshine (yes, we were indeed lazing on a sunny afternoon.... and in Liverpool!!!) Ray did stroll, eating an apple, also holding a banana. We almost pounced on him, our friend had his picture taken with him, then Ellie asked Ray if I could have my picture taken with him (as I was too shy to ask...I really need to sort that out!). He was very obliging, and I gave Ellie my fathers lovely flash (if old) camera to take the picture with. Only then did we realise that, although I had spent ages teaching Ellie how to get it in focus, I hadnt actually told her which button to press to take the pic. "I cant work these modern things!" she declared, and put my camera down to take the pic with her own. Did I mind? Did I mind having Ray's arm round me for longer than expected??? Well, I think you can guess! I believe I am actually grinning like a maniac! As Ellie was about to take the pic, Pete M dashed in front of us before realising. I invited him to join us, as did Ray, but to no avail. I WILL grab him sometime though! (LOL). And just before the picture was taken, our friend (Harry by name) said to Ray "Put your banana away!" I was in too much of a daze to hear this, but just as well, or I dont think I could have controlled myself! So, not MY turn to make an idiot of myself when having MY picture taken (that came later!). Those who visit Dave Davies' site will know what Im on about...all I say is MUSH! Hehe
Ray jumped into his lovely londoncarhire.com van(!!!) and drove off. No posh Jaguar or Mercedes.... a PEOPLE CARRIER! We wandered off for a couple of drinks (although I wisely stayed off the alcohol.....I dont drink usually anyway, and I didnt want to risk the effects of a delirious lightweight!), then back to the Philly for about half five, where we hung round in the cold for an age. Some more people had turned up by now (although us in the know had already had him to ourselves hee hee!) and we met and chatted to a nice lady called Jean. I dont recall where she came from, but she had been to the resceduled Sheffield gig, and the Leicester one. She told us that the Sheffield had been a blast, but Leicester was dull (the audience, not Ray!). Well, cue hanging round in the now colder sunshine waiting for them to arrive. At about quarter to 7, we saw Pete walking up. I looked to Ellie for conformation, as I didnt have my glasses on. I had wanted a piccy of me and him, but did I ask? PAH! Cue shyness (again!!) and all that came out of my mouth was a, albeit cheery, "heya!" (my version of hello, obviously). Up turns Ray 15 minutes later, and happily signs autographs for those waiting round, whilst I the happy snapper click away on my camera (you see, I can work it, even if Ellie CANT). Pics of Ray smiling in the sun....bliss!
We drifted into the foyer of the Phil, and I hadnt put my camera away, still had the beast slung round my neck, and one of the officials came over and said: "Youre not taking pictures are you?" "No" I replied, already sensing what was coming next "Good, cos photos arent allowed" "Okay" I replied, and proceeded to tuck it into my already crammed teeny bag. Disappointed was what I was at this point.
Next stop we went to our seats, so Jean, and Harry left for their seats (Jean had got a returned ticket so was in row B - lucky sod! We'd asked the Phil to save us a couple of row B or C tickets and Ellie would pick them up, but the buggers sold them!) while we went to ours on Row H (10 rows back).
Just before half seven, when it was due to start, we got an announcement saying that it was delayed til quarter to 8. So we waited.
Then the lights dimmed, and the music blared. As Ellie and I were sitting way over on the left, we saw Ray coming out of the door, and put our hands up to start the clapping, but hesitated because no-one else started. Ray arrived on the stage to a somewhat delayed and hesitant applause, and he gave us all a funny look. This was not a good start. Nor did it get much better.
Ray anyway introduced Pete: "Here's a man thats going to be with me all night." Cue little (but loud) "oooh!" noises from Ellie and I, triggering "I think I'd better rephrase that, Pete just raised an eyebrow at me. He's going to be with me all the time on STAGE! ...Afterwards he goes off with two other men..... in a van." Laughter.
Ray launched straight into Sunny Afternoon, with energy and vigour. Ellie and I cheered loudly and sang along in full voice. Ray tried to get us all singing to the chorus "C'mon everybody now!" and again, Ellie and I blasted out, but to our shock, were clearly the loudest, the rest of the audience being rather muted in THEIR singing. Ray seemed to recognise our effort (or maybe its our fevered imagination? but I dont think so), but (now get THIS!) stopped singing! He looked at the audience, then said " [gestures to the left of the audiece (our left that is)] You lot were good, [gestures to centre] you lot were fair, [turns to the right and us, slight smile] and you lot were rubbish!" Ellie and I made "ooooooh" noises, and his smile widened, looking straight at us! I however got the feeling that, even at this early stage, he sensed that this was gonna be a tough one and was getting slightly narked. He looked at our third of the audience, then shouted "WAY-O!" We replied (we, for Ellie and me, it was a loud screamy shout), and he laughed, replying "Thats better" then continued with the song. But can you imagine, having to stop and try to wake up the audience in the middle of SUNNY AFTERNOON!
I was stunned, and very disappointed with the rest of the audience. I for one was expecting, it being a Liverpool audience and all, to be a loud, rowdy gig, better perhaps than Manchester, being the last gig on the tour, and hopefully we'd get him to do All Day and All of the Night. Sorry if anyone reading this was in the audience, but they were like coma patients! It was as though they had all come to see ballet or something, and here comes this seasoned rocker, and they recognise a few songs and politely sing. And sadly thus it continued to be :-(
[BTW, I cant exactly remember the order of the songs so these comments may be a little muddled, but I was almost for passing out, so please excuse me]
[You will note also in this posting that Ellie and I get a lot of mentions (refer to the rest of the audience being dead feeling), but we were trying our darndest to get the damned audience livened up. So here they come]
But, despite this, Ray continued to give it his all, bless him! He made a comment in the story about being a sex-driven rock star, and Ellie and I whooped joyfully. Ray glanced over, raised his eyebrow, gave a slight laugh and pouted (I got this from Ellie, as I was too busy hiding my face, realising we'd been rather loud (it got worse, believe me)).
It was a pretty standard Storyteller set, so we wont go into details of every song, just mention our own embarrassing bits hehe!
Well, That Old Black Magic!!!!! It certainly worked its charm on two young female fans perched on seat 2&3, row H! Id thought that Manchester was sexy, but that time!!!!! Im not one for getting giddy over people easily, but I was shaking (as was Ellie), almost ready to faint, it was THAT sexy (HUGE hormone surge, I can tell ya!). But we held ourselves together for the next bit that we knew was coming... "If this is too sexy for you, I can stop." "NO NO" E&C (Ellie&Carrie) scream, and Ellie cried "Carry on!" "What, this ISNT too sexy???" "Try again!" I yell, and got a large laugh from the audience, as well as a laugh and sly look from Ray. I think he had know identified us as the two that were going to be at this all night, as he kept looking over our way for a lot of the evening (not an unpleasant experience by any measure!).
He made his comment about that aweful 2nd single, going something like: "and our second single was one I wrote myself, and was called [big pause with arms outspread for emphasis] YOU STILL WANT ME!" Silence, as is usual for this bit. "Please, dont applaud." (And how could I pass this opportunity up?)... replying in a deadpan, dry voice "Dont worry." He gave me a dirty look, but I was also rewarded with another laugh from the audience. Ellie collapsed into fits of laughter at my side, while I obligingly blushed slightly. Then (due to the delirium) my ears have failed to record what was said exactly next....the next comment I remember hearing was: "....You Still Want Me. And nobody did." "We do!" I yelled. He looked round again and said "Thankyou." I could have passed out!
He was getting slightly annoyed, I felt, with this otherwise unresponsive audience while he was singing and playing his guts out trying to get them to do SOMETHING! As he was telling the story about YRGM, and the part where he was in the living room with Dave, and his sisters came in to listen, he made the comment "They were the hardest audience to impress.....yes even harder than you!" Half indignant, half laughing protest from E&C (loudly, as usual) and we got another grin! WOOO! (That reminds me....he mentioned Minnie the Moocher!). He talked about how they played YRGM in clubs, with Dave, for the solo "going down on his knees and flinging his groin to the audience..." (he shouldnt say that sort of thing with rowdy young girlies in!)"....still attached to him, of course." Laughter from the audience!!! He also made a joke that wasnt in the Manchester gig about how they drove up and down the country in their van, until Robert and Grenville decided it would be a better idea to get them some gigs!
By this time, people had started to take photographs. I had been too terrified of having my father's camera confiscated by the officials dotted around to get it out before (no pics of Rays AMAZINGLY sexy TOBM dance *sob*) but finally dragged it out of my bag, and changed the lens to a long one (and I could see Ray out of it better than just ordinary looking). Started snapping covertly away. I didnt dare use my flash, and wondered if it was worth it anyway at that distance. But the light was OK and it was a 400 speed film, so fingers crossed.... but I digress...
His disappointment was further shown when he did Well Respected Man. At Manchester (yes I know Im banging on about it...but I need something to compare with) he got the audience all singing along with it, but here he didnt even try. Sensing he was fighting a slightly losing battle with this lot (except guess who...of course hee hee), perhaps. He did Autumn Almanac, and some of the audience regained consciousness to sing along. Got the the 'roast beef' bit, and he stopped, looked at the middle section, and said "you lot obviously aren't vegetarian!"
Now, this is one of the best bits of the gigs for me (and the most embarrassing for Ellie). He made another "sex-crazed middle aged rocker" comment. I was too busy snapping a photo to whoop suggestively, but Ellie did. Ray stopped, turned, looked fully at her, and said "That girl's easy!" Roars of laughter from the audience, Ellie nearly died! "Oh you guessed then" I shouted back. "Guessed huh?...." he replied to the rest of the audience with a smile and a 'look', and more approving laughter. I was in fits of hysterical laughter, and Ellie was in the terrible state of 'laughing til she cried'.
Also included were beautiful renditions of Stop Your Sobbing and Two Sisters, as well as part of Set Me Free, with a truly STUNNING spanish guitar style solo from Pete (Im madly jealous!) but the rest of that half was a complete haze.
The interval arrived, and Ray and Pete left the stage. People started getting up and moving about, and the lights lifted. I was still in shock from the lack of enthusiasm from the audience, and said so to Ellie, who agreed. Those directly around us smiled and laughed as they moved away, and I explained to them that the audience was dead and we were trying to liven things up a bit. The guy sitting next to me told me that he had been trying to boot it, but his tape had jammed. I was very disappointed as it would have had some of our best 'performances' on it. He fixed it in time for the second part though. Meanwhile, Ellie went off to find Roo, and I read a text message from Olga wishing us well and saying that she hoped we were having a brill time, which, despite the dead nature of the audience, we were. I debated whether to get an ice cream as my throat was feeling a bit rought and ragged (I'd been taking Day Nurse all weekend because I woke up on Friday with a sore throat....Day Nurse is a wonderful thing!), but when I stood up found my legs were shaking so much that I could barely stand up straight, never mind walk!
The interval ended, everyone was sat down, and the lights again dimmed. Pete enetered stage right, and we clapped, some loudly, some out of reaction, expecting Ray, I suspect, and I yelled "YAY PETE", voice noticably hoarse (I was having to think about my voice and getting to work right by now). I spotted Ray just coming out of the stage door (though he was still obscured from most of the audience by a large screen and the amps), and this time didnt hesitate in starting the applause and cheering. But, unlike the other Storyteller NO WHITE TRAINERS! And, whereas at Manchester (theres that word again) he had practically BOUNDED onstage, here he simply walked, suitcase in hand. "He's really not happy with this lot is he?" I whispered to Ellie. Nod of agreement.
Well, I cant say that the second part was as fun as the first, though Ray, the marvel, still gave it his all, mainly because E&C didnt have as many opportunities to make 'comments'. He did the usual "...All Day And All of the Night...which we aren't going to play tonight." "OH C'MON" E&C cried, and of course I couldnt help but add "DO IT FOR THE EASY GIRL!" Those around us found this hilareous, and it rippled out. Ellie was mortified, but laughing too, so I think I got away with it! He again did "WAY-O!" , got a response (raucous from E&C), "WAY-AY-AY-O!" and launched into Lola. Rather amazingly to me, the audience warmed more to Lola than YRGM, which was slightly bizarre. Of course Ellie and I sang our loudest, and the guy booting it next to us passed us the little mic, and we sang into it. So, if that tape turns out and goes round, the loud, hoarse, probably off-key females are us two! :-)
And then...that wonderful moment when he takes off his jacket! E&C were expecting this, and we happily squealed, cheered, and yelled "MORE!..KEEP GOING!" It grew quiet for a split second, so I of course had to add: "YOU DONT HAVE TO STOP YOU KNOW!" I think that was the final straw, he HAD to reply to all this suggestiveness. He smiled, then donned a weary expression, turning to us and said "Behave yourselves, Im a 55 year old man...in a 54 year old's body..." "Thats the attraction!" I countered loudly, interrupting his "...I picked that up from Ronnie Scott." I think (actually hope) that he approved. The audience did, got a loud laugh for all that lot!
Last song was Waterloo Sunset. I harmonised all the way through, bar when he again tried to get us to sing the Sha-la-las. Of course, LOUD sha-la-las from E&C, and even some loud ones from the audience, but still wasnt raising the roof. We got up and shouted whooped etc when he went of, and again for the encore. I think, however, he was truly narked off with the mostly dead audience, and only did a little bit of YRGM for the encore.
We drifted out, truly on a high, and off to round the side. We waited for about half an hour, then he exited wearing his Trilby. He obligingly signed autographs for the 20 or so fans outside, and gave Jean and Ellie, who were stading by his car door a hug (I alas was standing behind Ellie so didnt get one *sob!*) but we got to thank him for a great gig, and he smiled at us (*THUD!*).
So there you are. Some of you may be wondering how, with that dull reception for him, how I can class this as a better gig. Well, as far as the audience goes, not a patch on the Manchester one, very little involvement or enthusiasm. But I think it was because of this that Ellie and I made all the noises and comments that we did, to try and get people going, things we would never usually have dared say, and because of the quiet he heard us! We therefore enjoyed it hugely, and as I said, Rays singing was SUPERB!! Truly enjoyable, amazing, stunning, and Petes guitar was almost beyond words. Tight and wonderful (Im fast running out of adjectives here!), and mind-bogglingly FABULOSIS!
If you've all got this far without dying of the old age, I congratulate you! Those who are seeing Ray in, is it Copenhagen?, are lucky, and I wish I was going to be there! In a way I now feel empty as I have nothing really to look forward to. No news on Rays solo album or if there will be a tour to promote it, and although Dave has said he is trying to get a tour of Europe organised, there is no suggestion as to whether this will be this year, although it seems unlikely as he has dates booked for August in the US, and the list for gigs over there is growing. Now what do I do for a Davies fix???
End of report.
(who is exhausted from singing and screaming yesterday, only getting to bed at gone midnight, then up at 6am to catch a train home in time for school!)