Glamour, Chaos and The Kinks
Lilian Roxon in New York
The Divine Bette Midler, of whom you'll hear a LOT more soon, was sitting right next to me and the equally divine Candy Darling (a gorgeously convincing transvestite) smothered in furs, was sitting in front of me. It was a very glamorous night and it was, of course, The Kinks latest New York concert.
I can't say that the Kinks have a wide following here yet, certainly it is not as wide as they deserve and I still can't understand why, but it's a following that's growing by the minute and it's nothing if not totally demented.
There were two concerts this time, two nights in a row, and not only were both completely sold out but they were also pure insanity and chaos. The Valley Stream branch of the Kinks Appreciation Society, for instance, came to both armed with confetti, paper plates and cans of beer, so that the minute Ray Davies started squiting the front rows with beer, he got as good as he gave. Soon great fountains of it were gushing everywhere.
From start to finish, both nights, the audience was up on it's feet. No one was about to miss any of the fun and Ray Davies really is one of those performers whose every gesture and nuance you just have to see and enjoy. Bette Midler, whose new album has already established her as a superstar to those who have not yet seen her in person, was there taking it all in with an expression of delight on her face. She had never seen the Kinks in action before and I can tell you right now that she's gone off to buy all the records and that her big New Year's Eve concert the Philharmonic will have to include "Lola." By the way, you haven't lived if you haven't seen Candy primly joining in with the chorus of the song that just has to be about her.
I went to two nights in a row because it seemed to me that despite the crowd's ecstasy, Ray was rushing through his songs with unseemly haste. His movements are always so luxuriously lazy, so slow and deliberate and sensual, that I felt a little cheated, even though it was a long show with many songs and lots of action. He was definitley better on the second night (belive me, those fans didn't notice a thing either time) and the band sounded better, too, but there was still this niggling feeling that something is wrong.
No Kinks' performance is ever slick or without flaws, and that's it's charm, but this is something else. I think if you'd never seen them before, and you weren't in the business like Bette, or turned on by the audience, you might just have been disappointed. As it happens, most of the people there were hard-core Kinks fans who left the show shining with happiness. I found one little group singing "Sunny Afternoon" all the way along Eighth Avenue.
Lilian Roxon , 1972