At The Sage
It's been a long time since I last saw Ray Davies, complete with The Kinks, in concert. In fact, it was in Redcar on 18 November 1994. I was surprised to see that he was coming to The Sage and was pleased to be able to snap up a couple of tickets.
Ray came onto the stage with Bill Shanley - who would provide lead guitar throughout the show - and started the evening with 'This Is Where I Belong'.
The first hour or so was a laid back accoustic affair. Ray broke up the songs with little stories about his life and the development of The Kinks (although he said he should fine himself everytime he mentioned 'the K word'). favourites from the K-catalogue included 'I Need You', 'Where Have All The Good Times Gone', 'Tired Of Waiting For You' and 'Sunny Afternoon'. More recent solo work appeared too, such as 'Morphine Song', written while he was dosed up in hospital recovering from being shot by a mugger.
Audience participation - in the form of a sing-along - was encouraged from the second song onwards. All well and good, but I would have preferred Ray doing all of the vocal work rather than sharing the honours - virtually 50/50 in the case of the more popular hits - and there were times when I felt he wasn't taking his own back catalogue particularly seriously. This effect was embellished when he announced he was going to sing the second half of one of the songs in a Johnny Cash style of voice.
The first half of the show came a close as Ray read an extract from his semi-autobiographical book, 'X-Ray'. This lead to the start of '20th Century Man' as the rest of the band arrived to join in. Damon Wilson (drums - Keith Moon style!), former Kink Ian Gibbons (keyboards) and Dick Nolan (bass). This was a very energtic rendition and, for me, the highlight of the show. The nadir came shortly afterwards, with a shouted version of 'The Hard Way' which felt out of place and rather highlighted a lack of flexibility in the vocal department.
The rest of the show was a good mixture of more Kinks classics and solo material (centred around the 'Working Man's Cafe' CD). Curiously, we got 'All Day And All Of The Night' but not 'You Really Got Me'.
The encore consisted of 'Imaginary Man' and 'Lola', both of which were well received.
Photos were outlawed during the show but I grabbed a small number of shots right at the end.
It was an enjoyable evening and a good show but I was left with a nagging feeling that it should have been even better.