Review - Ray solo, 18 August, 1997, Edinburgh International Festival
Date: August 18, 1997 9:56 AM
From: Ron Lancashire
Sunday 18 August 1997
The Assembly Rooms
Edinburgh International Festival
Ray Davies: The Storyteller
At the stroke of midnight, the storyteller appeared back on stage at the
Assembly Rooms here in Edinburgh. Two years ago RD gave the festival goers
the 'X-Ray' show to ponder over. Last night, which was the first of 15 gigs
in the city, Ray, having obviously remembered the cries of 'Haste ye back'
last time, returned to deliver the continuing and developing one man
view of life in the every day story of Davies folk. Lest we forget that he
still is the leader of the Kinks, where ever they be, RD looking relaxed and
rested as he took us by the mental hand as we eagerly awaited the next
instalment of the story.
What unfolded was the latest version of a trip through the Davies mind set and
a selection of old favourites and recent ditties played ever more tightly by
RD and Pete Mathieson, the youger partner in the combo. The opening part of
the night's affair led us memory lane of 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion',
'Sunny Afternoon' 'Victoria', and the exquisite '20th Century Man'. Setting
the scene is what this show is all about and harking back to land of the
cockney boys, and RD's view
of North London and growing up remains intriging to the faithful and the
occasional vistor to the RD playtime. 'London Town' remains of the
best unrelaesd new songs that RD has composed.
Then along came Dave Davies..and so the Kinks are given the conditions
necessary for existence. Green amps, that old black magic, Streatham Ice
the Kray Twins and Recording contracts get a mention in this unwinding story.
Still, there is 'Set Me Free', 'See my Friends', 'Dead End Street' and
'Autumn Almanac'to be going on with before the strains of 'X-Ray', 'Stop your
Sobbing' and the potential classic 'Art School Babes' takes the listener on
through RD's formative years. Still there is Dave in the background of all
And was that the introduction of a new song 'Dawn is Breaking'? for the show.
Watch this space.!!!!
Just as I was thinking that we might be sitting in Edinburgh till three or
four in the morning, RD, following his now traditional visit to 'Julie
took us to what many RD/Kinkesques might think was quick end to the show.
Leaving us in the recording studio with the strains of 'You really got me'is
not really fair, especially when there is so much further to go in this
If you had the seen the show as it has evolved over the last 2 years, then
you would have been slightly surprised that it lasted only 1 hour 40 minutes
and was minus some of the greats such as 'village green' 'two sisters'
'animal'and 'days'. Certainly the hairs on the back of my neck were just
tested when the final whistle arrived. But then, of course, there are 14
nights to go here in Edinburgh and anything can happen!!!!
Eat your heart out Poughkeepsie!!!
Spotlight on Ray Davies
Printed in 'The Scotsman'morning newspaper, Edinburgh, Scotland on
18 August 1997
Time magazine once ran a story about an English pop group, a four piece from
London's Muswell Hill built around two brothers who hated each other and two
others who didn't. They were called The Kinks. In order to place the band in
a musical perspective and rank it alongside its contemporaries, 'Time' used
a neat corporeal conceit: the Beatles, it noted, aimed for the head, the Who
went for the throat, and the Rolling Stones drew a bead on the crotch. And
Muswell Hill's finest? They went straight for the funny bone.
Ray Davies fronted the Kinks and wrote the majority of their timeless pop
songs. And while he used his brain as much as his humerus in the process, his
lyrical vision made for the quirkiest of products. Of all the other poet
philosophers of that turbulent decade, only Pete Townshend came close to
matching Davies' cock-eyed take on the world. And nobody laughed louder than
in verse: when goofy, gap toothed Ray Davies penned songs like 'Dedicated
Follower of Fashion' and 'The Village Green Preservation Society' he imbued
them with a sense of fun which still reverberates 30 years on. Adding fuel to
the fire was brother Dave's churning guitar parts.
Davies has a reputation for being a difficult interviewee but in person he is
modesty itself. He evens claims to be surprised by the durability of The
Kinks' musical heritage. "I only wrote those songs and made those records to
give us a chance to go on tour and make a living" he says. "That may sound
odd but that was all I did it for, I didn't see it being a future. Songs like
'Sunny Afternoon' were all written just as a job.I thought that they'd be
today and gone tomorrow. But people stil like to hear them played and new
bands are covering them which is wonderful".
A rare breed that, the self-effacing legend. Of course, even legends have to
earn a crust and since the heyday of the Kinks, Davies has gone about
subverting the notion that faded rock stars should be fondly remembered and
heard only on stadium re-union tours or in re-issue box sets.
It is an ethos that which extends to his current Edinburgh festival fringe
show - bizarrely called 'The Storyteller' - but which has extended to other
projects such as 1993's 'Weird Nightmare', a film he made about jazz musician
Charlie Mingus for Channel 4 TV and 'Return to Waterloo', which won him an
award at the New York Film and TV festival.
This need to be different seems less like David Bowie-style dilettantism and
more like a mortal fear of standing still, of becoming part of the present.
And it has led Davies to approach some standard rock legend practices from
some very acute - you could say Kinksian - angles. For instance, he wrote an
autobiography but refused to have it ghost written. "I don't think that a
ghostwriter would have brought into the idea of writing it the way I wanted
to write it," he explains. " A few other people had put out ghost-written
autobiographies at the time and I just didn't think it was authentic. When
you like someone's songs, you want the book written in their personal style,
whether it's good or bad. It has to be from them".
But Davies wasn't content with just that: he had to tinker yet further with
the established format. The way that he wanted to write it was to set it in
the future and have its narrative revolve around two fictional characters. So
he pitched it forward 20 years and had a crothety 70 year old rock star being
interviewed by a 19 year old hack in the former's dilapidated Konk studios
(the name that Davies gave his own recording studios, said to be a reference
to the size of his nose). It was an ambitious project and he called it
Oh, and he added an Orwellian twist by chucking a shadowy governmental
organisation into the mix. "I set it in the future because it was so
in the past. The style I wrote it in is kind of the world that I live in. I
live in that twilight world because I exist in my songs and in songs you
know whether you're writing fact or fiction".
Not perhaps the best guarantee of veracity for those wanting to know the
of the Kinks, but again it shows Davies playing with time, joking with
stereotypes and, as one reviewer noted at the time of its publication,
covering his tracks. His second book, 'Waterloo Sunset', runs along similar
lines. Published in September, it is a concept album on paper, a collection
of short stories partly inspired by Kinks songs. It too plays with accepted
formats. One chapter, 'Celluloid Heroes'(or is it only a tinted photograph?),
is written as a screenplay while another, 'My Diary', lists journal entries.
"The writer in 'Waterloo Sunset' is called Les Mulligan and he also lives in
a world that he has half-invented," say Davies, proud of his concoction of
fact and fiction. Also featured is one Richard Tennant, a shadowy figure
who is helping an ageing rocker make a comeback. Knowing all that, what can
Edinburgh fringe goers expect from 'The Storyteller'?
"People will come thinking they're going to see this guy talking about
anecdotes and reading bits of diaries from his past but in fact it could be
about any new band starting now, about four guys wanting to get out of the
situation they are in and make their mark on the world. I think that is a
story which can be set in any time". Davies has taken the show around the
world since first performing a variation of it at the Edinburgh Festival two
years ago and he is currently recording an LP version. This is an "extension"
of that early show, he says.
But while those early Kinks songs drip with humour and hope, the pain in
Davies' personal life has on occasions threatened to wash him away. But what
is a stage show built on memories without a few tears to help it along? The
history of the Kinks relationship with stardom runs the gamut of rock excess
- from drugs to groupies to suicide atttempts and back - and Davies'
relationships with others have followed an equally tumultuous route. His
'marriage' to Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde was a stormy one which began
when he divorced his first wife to move in with her and ended when she rang
him from Australia in 1984 to say that she was leaving him for Simple Minds
singer Jim Kerr. In between, they produced a daughter, Natalie Ray. Davies
has two other children.
And then there is Dave. Always Dave. The onstage fights and offstage
bickering between the brothers out the Gallaghers to shame and became a part
of Sixties' rock mythology. So does Ray Davies still hate his sibling?
"He still haunts me, but I love him," he says desparingly. "He's my brother
for heaven's sake. I'd never like anything bad to happen to him, but he
pisses me off. I love him though, so what else can I do?"
Elsewhere in 'The Storyteller' Davies canters through less painful memories.
Hanging out with John Lennon for instance. "He was a great idol of mine, but
our first meeting wasn't a great one. We had just gone into the charts and
were being touted as the big new thing and the Beatles were topping the bill
on a gig we were both playing. We thought we'd go on and blow them off the
stage. We were all ready to go on and then John Lennon came over and, well,
really put me in my place. That's the story I tell on stage and it's touching
in a way because it's almost like John Lennon is there. I think people like
that, they like to know what happened when the cameras weren't there, when
microphones were turned off".
And as if stroppy Scousers weren't enough to deal with, over attentive
Londoners have also given Davies his share of problems. "The Kray twins
wanted to manage the Kinks at one point," he says, when pushed on the subject
of gangsters mentioned in 'The Storyteller' pre-publicity. "We got a visit
from one of their people.....they were apparently fans of the Kinks which is
even more frightening". One of the songs Davies performs in the show is the
'London Song', which mentions the Krays. He once made the mistake of playing
it on televsion. Reggie Kray saw it..... "The following week my agent got a
call from him saying 'I hear Ray is mentioning me in a song and I'm very
pleased. Would Ray like to come and visit me?'".
Davies was on tour at the time, so he politley declined. Well, he valued his
funny bone, didn't he?
Ray Davies - The Storyteller
The Assembly Rooms
Fringe Review published in 'The Scotsman' newspaper on 26 August 1997.
He may have settled somewhat unwillingly into the role of venerable rock
grandpa, but Ray Davies is adept at telling the children how it was in his
day without being pompous or longwinded.
The songwriter's three hour show of two years ago is now split into two
Depending on the night, Davies either unravels the Kinks' feud filled
history, or, as on this night, the perhaps more intriguing origins of the
massively influential Sixties band, illustrating the stories behind the
Guiding us through his early life via renditions of classic Kinks hits such
as 'Lola' and 'Victoria', he vividly brings to life the characters and scenes
of a very English upbringing, evocatively played out in suburban front rooms,
and featuring wry impersonations of the main players of the story.
Ever present is his sibling and frequent nemesis, Dave Davies, whose crucial
role in the band's history is fondly acknowledged - creating the legendary
chunky guitar sound by attacking the the band's cheesy eight watt amp with a
knitting needle, cannily organising their first gig as an eight year old
scallywag, and displaying the kinky style that suggested the band's name,
resplendent in thigh high cavalier leather boots, Y fronts outside his
trousers and bouffant hairdo.
Witty and intimate, this is a show of nostalgic reflections, humorous
insights and unbeatable music. The singalongs might be cringeworthy for
younger fans, but many in the audience are Davies' peers and respond with
gleeful enthusiasm. By the time the story reaches the first big single, 'You
Really Got Me' and tales of hilarious high fidelity squabbles in the
recording studio, the punters are rapt with attention. And yet with the Kinks
fame just beginning, this is where Davies tantalsing leaves us. A shrewd
marketing ploy to get us back for part two maybe, but judging by part one,
it will work.
Ray Davies : The Storyteller
Review published in the 'Edinburgh Evening News' 19 August 1997
The king Kink has carved out a new life for himself - as a storyteller, wit
and solo artist. Of the dizzying array of stage personae he has adopted over
the years, Davies' storyteller is perhaps the truest of them all. Maybe it's
because he has finally put The Kinks behind him, but perhaps it's just the
maturity of middle age wearing through. But the show, a richly detailed
intimate journey through Davies' life, often seems like a series of off-the-
cuff anecdotes, told to a couple of old friends over a pint or two in a smoky
Setting the scene with two of his lesser known classics - 'Victoria' and
'20th Century Man' - over an hour and a half Davies tells The Kinks story -
or at least his version of it. He pokes sly fun throughout at his little
brother Dave, their relationship - which takes sibling rivalry to an almost
frightening extreme - and even his brother's guitar playing. And how about
The Kinks' trademark sound? Apparently it was all Dave's idea - he took a
knitting needle to their four watt amplifier, and that was that.
>From then on, their souped up covers of Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly and Chuck
Berry took on a life of their own. With humour and wit, Davies imitates
drummer Mick Avory, brother Dave, their managers Robert and Grenville, and
diamond geezer Larry Page. These faces from the past leads the audience
through the hits; 'Well Respected Man', 'Lola','Waterloo Sunset', 'You Really
Got Me' and the equally impressive misses of his career. What this solo tour
proves is that Davies is equal to any of his contemparies - his writing is
more scathing than Pete Townshend, it's as piercing as Jagger and Richard at
their best, and as direct and melodic as Lennon and McCartney.
Britpop owes him a colossal debt indeed. And when you mix Davies' finely
crafted songs with a laugh a minute stand up routine, a dollop of nostalgia
and lashings of rock n' roll, you've got one of the best shows at the
Edinburgh Festival. If you must, sell your granny to see him!
Royal Concert Hall
Thursday 11 september 1997
This appearance was arranged by Waterstone's Bookstore, who claim to be
Scotland's biggest bookshop. It also tied in with the company's launch
programme of author events. It, of course, neatly tied in with the recent
publication of Ray Davies' new book 'Waterloo Sunset'. The publicity release
in respect of RD reads as follows:
"The lead singer of The Kinks follows his engaging biography X-Ray with a
collection of short fiction named after one of his best known songs. He will
be coming to Glasgow after a sell out run at the Edinburgh Festival to play
an acoustic set and read from 'Waterloo Sunset'. The same talent that
produced so many memorable songs has now produced an exuberant collection of
Ray's appearance at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow was the venue for one
of The Kinks' 1993 concerts here in Scotland and, as some will be aware, the
source of some of the live tracks on 'To The Bone' 1 and 2. However, this gig
was located in one of the smaller halls within the Royal Concert Hall and was
limited to about 150 people who braved a wet and windy evening getting to
their seats for the 8.15 pm start. Not surprisingly, there was a hint of
anticipation about it all amongst the faithful and others. But we were not to
be disappointed in the end as RD arrived 'on stage' with his book, guitar
case and a big smile.
Oh oh! Ray announced that those of us who came expecting a concert would be
slightly let down! and those avand garde folk who expected a full reading
would share the same fate!! Well blow me down, did we really believe this?
No indeed, dear Kinks readers. What emerged was a very cosy and informal
gathering for an hour and a half with Ray taking us through some of the
characters of his new collection of fictional stories that make up 'Waterloo
Sunset' and some songs.
First up, have you heard about 'Les Mulligan'? Well maybe a near
reflection of Ray himself and his dealings with the Sony Corporation some
might think: but then you will have to make your own mind up when you read
this chapter. Out comes the Ovation guitar from it's case and Ray plays us
a new song 'My Diary'(which is to be included on the new CD being released
here in Scotland and the rest of the UK on 29 September 1997).
And so on to the characters Lucian and Donna and the problems of emotional
turmoil associated with the highs and lows of relationships. Sound familiar?
"..Several girlfriends had come and gone, each leaving behind them behind
something for Lician to remember them by. When relationships were solid and
feelings were strong, these items would be treasured, but when the
was over they would be left to the dust with an almost masochistic relish...
...Perhaps Donna would change her mind, write to him, come back?". So to the
the cake shop and a rendition of 'Afternoon Tea' by Ray. Yes it's true my
friends and the chords are still ringing in my ears. Can you take any more?
Yes we can and we did. "My creator leaves me stranded at Waterloo at the end
his film. Without wasting your time, dear clock watchers, and I do admit that
this has taken a little time, my character is a sad, ineffectual man, crushed
by the world, elbowed out, held back, incapable. He was only let travel so
far, around and around on a return to Waterloo. The end, you may say. Not I".
Dont' do this to us Ray, dear boy, but he does and out comes the very
daunting 'Return to Waterloo' for those, so far, who have not had the hairs
on the back of their neck stirred. Phew!
Before embarking on the home journey, Ray invites his audience to indulge in
short question and answer session which a number dutifully oblige. But like
all family affairs, the questions and answers should be kept under wraps as
it was a special experience for all of the kindred spirits who were under the
same roof. Now for home !
"Les had been abroad when his sister had called to tell him their mother was
dead. He'd wanted to come back from New York earlier, but he couldn't get
away. When his sister called, Les felt too numb to feel guilty about not
with his Mum at the end. She would have been alright, surrounded by the rest
of the family, but just the same, there was a niggling feeling inside him.
Maybe he had let her down and disappointed her. He was her favourite, and he
hadn't been there". Yes, the final act this evening was a moving 'Scattered'
which had a few, if not all of us, thinking about our own situations before
applauding Ray with joy and appreciation for what was a unique evening.
Then, of course, there was afters in the form a personal book signing, photos
with Les (sorry RD) and some kindly personal words.
What were doing on 11 September 1997?
The Assembly Rooms
The Edinburgh International Fringe Festival
August 16 - 30 1997
The Edinburgh Nights were greatly enhaced by the the return of Ray Davies
to the arena of the Fringe Festival after a two year break. From the
beginnings of an idea down in Ulverston, England, 'X-Ray' was evolved and
taken to some rare spots in the UK; it was refined and let loose on an
unsuspecting Edinburgh public in August 1995 and then all points thereafter.
Then, another change of skin to '20th Century Man'. The point was that
RD was doing something that many of us thought was always possible, but yet
was inconceivable. What about the high song parts? Who could sing them if DD
was not there? But then we had gotten use to Mick Avory being absent from the
ensemble. Canada had taken on Pete Quaife. Was Dave's singing that difficult?
If you have not had therapy and you still had the spirit of adventure then
whatever the cost to yourself, you would have been in Edinburgh to get the
next course of your Kinksian injection. 'Storyteller' the new form of ant-
depressant arrived at the Assembly Rooms here in Edinburgh for 14 nights.
Yes, the venue which produced the first solo version of 'Shangri-La'in 1995
was about to produce some more new ditties.
"What time are you going to be home dear?" might have been the cry of some
less well versed partners in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, Frankfurt,
or Tokyo. It all depends on their tenacity. But for those who have had the
therapy sessions, Edinburgh was the real Mecca for a fortnight in August. How
could you stop us!
So onward to the midnight venue. Never been easy being an appreciator of the
RD way of life. A truncated version of the the RD and Kinks story is what is
on offer. Well Ok, guess we can only sit her for so long. But what will be
different? What is this new song RD that you are experimenting with?
Find out in the artistes bar from RD, after 8 gigs, that this called "Back in
the Front Room". Oh no! The Scots are being experimented upon again.
Get the BBC TV involved in week 2. Is this Ray really playing 'It's Alright
Now'. Yet another live video tape to collect. Don't know about your wings,
wings, but we were certainly was flying!
And so to the bar (most nights!). RD and Pete relaxing and talking to the
partnerless pals. Well it did have to that way, but then would they have
wanted to go home early? If you did on the last night of the Edinburgh
love affair, then 'Days' would have passed you by. In Edinburgh there were
14 nights and lest it should have carried on. But then, there was Glasgow
to come and even more adventure with afternoon tea.
It was a great pleasure to be one of the six who stayed the course. Apart
from Ray and Pete, we were John Heron, Andrew Hill, Harald Stadl and Ron
Such is the understanding of world wide
partners! At the end of this final assembly, our dear friend, Olga Ruocco,
who managed a goodly number of the 14 tied the ribbons with a cake and card
for Ray from us all.
Looking forward to Dave Davies next year!