December 01, 2008

Ray Davies Works Out The Kinks In Concert

Ray Davies (Photo by Donald Gibson)
Ray Davies may very well be the Kinks’ biggest fan. Who could blame him, really, considering the catalog he gets to choose from in concert. That its songs derive from his pen doesn’t seem to humble the man in the slightest; to the contrary, such only adds to his pride in playing them.

The audience inside the Tampa Theatre on Friday, November 28 was equally as thrilled in witnessing the British music legend perform a generous portion of the Kinks songbook as well as select solo efforts.

Accompanied by guitarist Bill Shanley, Davies worked through the mostly acoustic set while seated, for the most part, at a barstool. What the music lacked in volume, though, it made up for with integrity, the modest approach underscoring the depth and craft of his creations.

Opening with three Kinks rockers — “I Need You,” “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” and “Till The End Of The Day” — Davies hit his stride straight off, his organic renditions coursing forth with rigor and sway. He often summoned the audience to sing along — he needn’t have asked — as on “Sunny Afternoon” and “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion,” the latter introduced as “an old English folksong.” As well, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” inspired a rousing chorus, ironically one laced with sneering dissidence.

Formalities cast aside — the no-flash camera rule and a subdued audience among them — Davies gamely honored requests for “Alcohol” and “Low Budget,” seemingly as happy to hear them as anyone else.

The casual camaraderie extended to when he offered up a sampling of his solo work, including “The Tourist” — its love/hate sentiment embraced by the native Floridians in attendance — and “Working Man’s CafĂ©,” which Davies prefaced with a warm recollection of meeting up with his brother Dave for lunch. After a classic double shot of “Tired Of Waiting For You” and “Set Me Free,” he as well dedicated “All Day And All Of The Night” to his brother to close the main set.

Opening band Locksley provided a fantastic complement to the main performance, unleashing an arsenal of electric guitars and catchy pop melodies. In songs like “Don’t Make Me Wait” and “Why Can’t I Be You,” the Brooklyn-based quartet — fronted, incidentally, by brothers, Jesse and Jordan Laz — demonstrated some serious chops as well as the headliner’s enduring influence.

Such made for a celebratory, rambunctious grand finale when, at the end of the night, Ray Davies and Locksley shared the stage, charging through “You Really Got Me” in a garage-rock maelstrom. Concluding with “Victoria” and “Lola,” the musicians looked overjoyed, none moreso than the well respected man at the center of all this sound and fury.