Review - Ray Davies, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CaliforniaFrom: Allan Hirsch
Date: July 15, 2006
Ray's trip to Northern California this week was a study in contrasts.
On Wednesday, July 12, he played an outdoor concert at the Mountain Winery in upscale Saratoga, in the mountains south of San Jose. On Thursday, July 13, Ray was about 60 miles north at the venerable Warfield Theatre in the heart of San Francisco. The theatre is located next to an adult theatre on a sleazy block of Market Street that seems to be right out of one of the Big Bill Broonzy songs that Ray frequently cites as one of his important influences. But the Warfield has played host over the years to many great rock bands from San Francisco and elsewhere, so it was only fitting that Ray added his name to the list.
The aging theatre was about 75% full when Ray and his band took the stage. He exuded his usual energy and charm in a 100-minute show that covered 21 songs, supplemented with his stories and quips about his American influences, global touring, New Orleans, making his first solo album and, of course, brother Dave and the Kinks. His four-piece band was tight and they did a good job of giving the songs the power they deserve while staying enough in the background to ensure Ray had the spotlight. A blonde 20-something female vocalist joined the band for perhaps a fourth of the songs to help round out the sound, and she drew this quip from Ray: "You do have something in common with Dave. You both attract men."
Fans who were hoping to hear a Kinks greatest hits show may have been a little disappointed, as Ray played nine songs (almost half the show) from Other People's Lives. But a lot of fans (at least those right below the stage, where I was) knew the words to those songs almost as well as the Kinks classics, and the songs held their own just fine with the Kinks material. Don't book Ray on one of those nostalgia tours just yet!
Here is the playlist with a few comments thrown in:
- I'm Not Like Everybody Else
- Where Have All The Good Times Gone
- After the Fall
- Next Door Neighbour
- Creatures of Little Faith
- Over My Head
- Run Away From Time
- Apeman (featuring an acoustic duet with his guitarist)
- Sunny Afternoon (also an acoustic duet)
- Dead End Street
- Things Are Gonna Change (dominated by a bass-driven sound more powerful than the CD version)
- Till the End of the Day
- Oklahoma USA (which Ray said was inspired by his sister Rosie)
- Celluloid Heroes (an abridged 3-minute version that got to the final line quickly)
- The Tourist (the performance was a little ragged, despite -- or because of -- the fact that Ray clearly wanted to make it one of the show's highlights. There was a spoken-word interval in the middle of the song in which Ray took out a tape recorder and said he recorded the sounds of the cities he visits. He then walked to the side of the stage to let the band do a loud jam that simulated street noises picked up by his tape recorder. Ray came back and led the band through a full-volume part with a beat somewhat faster than the CD version. Ray uncharacteristically sang off-key briefly as he had to shout to ensure he was heard above the music)
- All Day and All of the Night (the song was followed by a mock exit from the band, but they quickly returned)
- Stand Up Comic (a really nice musical intro that highlighted the 60s-style riffs that underlie the verses. The song allowed Ray to put his stage talents to their best uses.)
- A Long Way from Home (which Ray explained was a song he wrote for and about Dave and his 60s socializing. He dedicated the song to Dave.)
- The Getaway
- You Really Got Me (the song opened with the Bo Diddley blues riff associated with A Gallon of Gas, but it quickly transitioned into a blues version of YRGM. With the band playing the song to a blues beat, Ray said: "I was at the piano in the living room, coming up with the chords for You Really Got Me. Dave walked into the room, and I said, 'Dave, listen to this.' He said, 'What kind of shit is that?'" Ray then explained Dave wanted to play the song faster, and the band sped up to finish YRGM at its more familiar rock pace.)
- Low Budget (this was the sole encore)