Review - Ray Solo, 16 October, 1995, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA

From: Peter Bochner
Date: 17 Oct 95 13:56:41
Subject: Ray solo show in Boston review

Ray Davies at the Paradise in Boston, Monday, Oct. 16

Here's a stab at reviewing last night's show. (Note: Neither of the two Boston papers reviewed the show in today's editions, although the Globe did a nice story on Ray/X-Ray yesterday.)

When we got there at 7:30; there were already 50 people lined up outside the Paradise on Commonwealth Ave. They opened the doors at 8:00, with the show scheduled to begin at 9:00. The Paradise is an unusually designed club; I hadn't been there in years. They had placed maybe 250-300 folding chairs in front of the stage; there were tables on the two sides of the stage, a few at floor level, eight at the next level one semi-flight up, and then another level of primarily standing room. The Paradise is said to hold 650+ and maybe it does. At any rate, the show was sold out. Tickets were priced at a measly $12; drinks were on the expensive side. (This way, more money goes to the club than if the tickets were higher priced and drinks cheaper.) There was no opening act.

Ray came on at around 9:15 with guitarist Peter Mathison and launched into Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Autumn Almanac and Sunny Afternoon. A surprising amount of the crowd responded to his call to help on the lyrics to Autumn Almanac, which was not a hit in the U.S. (I know, I know, how many Kinks songs were?) I've heard it on the radio once in my entire life. Ray then went into his first monologue, capped off by asking the crowd to "imagine we are entering a world of optimism," and segueing into Victoria, which he followed by a song that the flip side of that world: 20th Century Man.

Ray then talked about his family, his five elder sisters, and went into the haunting tune London Town. Then he talked about a record his mum had "banned" from the house, fearing the effect of its sexually suggestive lyrics. But he and Dave played it whenever his parents were out. Ray then crooned That Old Black Magic.

Next was So Tired of Waiting for You, followed by an anecdote of how Dave turned electric with the now infamous "green amp" which Ray said offered 8 watts of power. He described its sound as "crap," that it was equal in power "to a Walkman."

Ray and his guitarist Peter then did a lick from Ghost Riders in the Sky, which was followed by Set Me Free. Ray then sat down, saying "I like this acoustic thing -- You get to sit down." A seated Ray related how, as an older brother, he blackmailed younger brother Dave to buy all the records by their favorite blues artists like Slim Harpo and Big Bill Broonzy. "It's no wonder he turned out bad," Ray said.

Ray told the anecdote about Dave sticking knitting needles into the amps to invent the forerunner of heavy metal. "But our version of heavy metal sounded like a fart," he said. "I guess we invented 'heavy fart'".8

Then came See My Friends, after which Ray told the story of a hunchback in Muswell Hill who all the kids teased; Ray stopped when he hurt his back, fearing he would turn into a cripple too. "Ugliness, like beauty, is only skin-deep," he said, then went into the song X-Ray.

"Bet you can't imagine me as a 17-year old nerd," he told the crowd, going into a series of anecdotes as a prologue to a song he "dedicated to art school prick teasers," the very funny Art School Babes, followed by the new song, She Was Really Animal.

Then came Stop Your Sobbing, then more early Kinks memories. Whenever Ray intoned the name of Pete Quaife or Mick Avory (or, obviously, Dave), the crowd cheered. Ray then began what was to be a running gag about how when a cleancut Mick Avory auditioned as the group's drummer, he looked at the long hair of the other three and announced that he was straight.

Ray then went into the history of You Really Got Me. He said that on the recording, the Kinks were down to the last $300, so it was a one-shot deal. They couldn't afford to screw up, but Mick Avory promplty messed up the planned the drum lead-in to the song, screwing up the rest of the band. Ray looked at Dave and Dave said, "Fuck off." Ray said that although they tried to cover it up, if you listen closely to the original recording of the song, you can hear Dave say "Fuck off." A good story even if it's not true. Ray then delivered a gorgeous bluesy version of YRGM, with Pete on slide guitar.

After the song, a fan called out for Big Sky and Ray answered with "I haven't written it yet so I can't do it." Then, as an aside, he said to the crowd, "I See, I have an answer for everything."

Ray then went into the Beatles anecdote in the book, adding that Mick Avory called Paul McCartney Pull Muh Cock Off (or maybe Pull Muh Cork Off). He told an anecdote involving John Lennon, in which he did a great imitation of John. Supposedly opening for the Beatles, a snooty John told Ray "If you run out of songs, you can 'ave one of ours." Ray said that YRGM got a great response from the crowd, and Ray told us he wished he had told Lennon, if he same Liverpudlian accent, "This ain't one of yours, it's one of ours." They then did YRGM traditional style.

Before doing A Well-Respected Man, Ray apologized for the nasalness of his voice on the record; he said he had a bad cold at the time. Then he told the fags anecdote, which he said made the group "very popular in San Francisco at a time when nowhere else in the U.S. wanted them." But when he wrote fag in AWRM, he meant fag like in Harry Rag, whereupon he did Harry Rag, with the entire audience singing along.

This was prologue to a long bluesy pastiche, in which Ray related, a la Alice's Restaurant, how the Kinks came to be banned in the U.S. He did a lot of interesting voices, including a cowboy who pulls up to the band's van on the highway, and drawls, "The Kinks? What kind of motherfucking name is that?" At one point in this monologue, Ray references "an All-American wise guy with a strange voice, like Tom Schneider [sic]," his only allusion to his nighmarish interview with Tom Snyder last Friday night. (I wanted to request a song by Blow, but there were few opportunities for audience interaction with the stage.)

Let me wrap up here. I Go to Sleep was the next song, followed by the lovely Two Sisters, which worked even without the harpsichord. (After the song, Ray said that in analyzing the song many years later, he dediced that the wayward lass Sophilla symbolized Dave and housewife Priscilla represented himself.)

Then came a hybrid Money-Go-Round/PowerMan, followed by the still powerful Dead End Street. He then did The Ballad of Julie Finkel. In his prelude, he offered a lengthy and loving dedication of the song to a very special woman, and that there was always a Julie in the crowd, whereupon a woman in the second row, sensing Ray's obvious affection for this person, piped, "I'm Julie."

This was followed by the (give us a break from) Lola, then To the Bone, then Village Green, Days, Waterloo Sunset and a reprise of You Really Got Me. The lights went on and so did the background music, indicating it was time to go. Despite the boisterous applause of the crowd, there was no encore. It was 11:30 p.m.

Summing up, what can I say? Over two hours of Ray performing and reading for $12. I went with another Kinks fanatic and two music fans but not esp. Kinks fans. Everyone had a great time. I'd have liked a little more interaction with the crowd and would have liked to see A Well-Respected Man and Lola replaced with songs that we never hear, like Young and Innocent Days, Animal Farm, Do You Remember Walter or Driving, but this, added to a stellar performance this summer at the South Shore Music Center, was enough to make 1995 a memorable year for this aging Kinkster.
E-mail Dave Emlen