After 25 Years, Kinks Retain Their Scale and Informality
The Kinks aren't playing at stadiums like their contemporaries, the Who and the Rolling Stones - just middle-sized theaters like the Beacon where the British band performed on Monday night. And their aren't elaborate spectacles, but amiable, scrappy, slightly disheveled concerts that reaffirm the band's perseverance and moxie. Twenty-five years after the Kinks had their first hit single, "You Really Got Me," the Kinks still take rock and roll just seriously enough to knock it around.
Ray Davies, the Kinks lead singer and songwriter, seemed to intersperse the planned set with Kinks oldies chosen on the spot, dipping into the band's 1960's catalog for fondly remembered songs like "Days," "The Village Green Preservation Society" and "Stop Your Sobbing." Every few songs he would walk off stage to put on a different t-shirt while his brother, Dave Davies, on lead guitar, led the band in instrumental reprises. The band's informality - and the fact that once it settled into a song, it rocked hard and joyfully - reminded me of the Replacements, a 1980's band that's equally impertinent.
Like last year's Beacon concert, the show included extended set pieces with a pair of dancers: "Aggravation," a song from the Kinks coming album, traced modern urban tension to Berlin in 1939 with not quite coherent logic. But the dance numbers did give the band a chance to display it's up to date guitar riffing alongside its bouncy, tuneful oldies, and the newer songs continues Ray Davie's fascination with the effects of modern consumer culture on the middle class.
With his lopsided grin, his deceptively diffident (but unmistakable) voice and his cheerfully unassuming attitude on stage, Mr. Davies shows that modesty - backed by a no-nonsense rhythm section - can carry a band through the decades.
Jon Pareles, New York Times, October 18, 1989