Friday, May 11, 2007

He rocks...

... It's official.

I have died and gone to heaven.

Ray Davies is a god.


What an evening. What a bloody brilliant, fantastic wonderful evening.

Sorry you are in for some hyperbole...

Spouse and I arrived at the Albert Hall last night with minutes to spare (you try getting out of the door by 6pm when you have four kids and a husband who's walked in at 5.30...) and seeing that we hadn't a clue who the support was, decided we needed a bit of a breather before entering the fray.

So we got a drink and some nibbles (the frantic dash up to town having not left time for food), and sat in nervous anticipation of what was to come.

Suppose we don't like him, said Spouse.

Maybe he'll be a disappointment, I said.

Is it wise to go and see your idols? we both wondered anxiously. (This mainly from me, remembering a time when I went to see Margaret Atwood at the National. Given that she is only one of my two living literary idols - Terry Pratchett being t'other - I was nervous as hell. I queued up hours to get her to sign a copy of Cat's Eye, trying to think of something witty and incisive to say. And then when I got there, all I could do was babble incoherently about how brilliant she was... )

We needn't have worried.

We were sitting in the Arena in row 23, and in an aisle too boot. So we had a great view from the start.

From the minute he walked on stage, the atmosphere was electric. He launched straight into: I'm Not Like Everybody Else, which I forgot to mention yesterday. It's another of my favourites... and one I play to the children to give them the idea that they're individuals who should carve out their own niche in life (though I would kind of like them to get jobs...)

It was spine tinglingly good. I fell in love with that song when Spouse was given a live Kinks CD called To the Bone, but to hear it actually live... was, just amazing. What was so great about that, and pretty much everything else he did, was that it exceeded my expectations, and was BETTER then I could have thought possible.

Cheekily he fed into Where Have All The Good Times Gone?, which given the news that the long goodbye had finally been announced, I'm sure was not uncoincidental... And you realise just how bloody good he is, because the song is just as relevant today as when he first wrote it. And that goes for Dead End Street too, which came later. The original black and white video for that was banned for being too shocking, and now looks almost quaintly archaic, showing a glimpse into a world that no longer exists... At least not in that form. The two rooms, apartment on the second floor are now likely to be on a council estate rather then a tenement block, but sheesh, does that song still resonate. As did Celluloid Heroes, which I've always found incredibly poignant, and seems more true then ever before.

The gig got better and better. He had us jumping and clapping and shouting and singing... It's so great when you go to a gig and you KNOW all the words. I haven't sung so much in years. And even Spouse joined in. He was trying hard to be all English about it, but it was impossible not to get into the swing.

What was also fabulous about it was, that the new stuff, I didn't know was all wonderful too. His last album features a fantastic song called The Tourist which so perfectly encapsulates the way we travel and look at the countries we visit, and can only ever see a fraction of what is really there, and the song he ended his first set on, Twentieth Century Man, proves Ray Davies still has the capacity to write thought provoking songs that speak so eloquently of the times in which we live.

In between he was witty and urbane, moving smoothly from heavy rock numbers, to softly silent solos. We came out of the first half almost speechless, from the sheer dazzling brilliance of it all.

After a quick drink and excited cool down, we went back to a second half which, if such a thing could be possible ,was even better...

I can't remember the name of the song with which we were launched into the second set (I think it was called No One's Listening to Me) but it's new and deals with the aftermath of an incident three years ago when Ray Davies was shot. There was clearly a lot of personal stuff going on in there, but clever old Ray, he goes from the personal to the universal in the blink of an eye and has written a brilliant indictment of today's society, where no one listens, and those in power ignore the horrors around them. I am absolutely going to have to go out and buy his new album whenever it arrives. How wonderful to still be churning out such songs, even now... what a genius. What a star... What a god...

The hits then came so thick and fast, that I can't remember everything, but he had us all toe tapping to Come Dancing (which I don't actually like) and by the time he'd reached Set Me Free by way of Sunny Afternoon, Tired of Waiting For You (THAT was the song that featured in the last episode of Green Wing) people at the front were beginning to get to their feet. We were a bit too far back for my liking, and apart from a game couple to the left who were straining at the leash to get going, no one else around us was joining in sufficiently for me not to feel at total twat for leaping up.

I want to dance, I said.

Not yet, said Spouse, all English and self conscious.

Bugger that, I said, as Ray launched into The End of the Day, and I jumped up, and dragged him down the front.

And do you know, we were both so glad I did. I have never been so close to a stage before, we could have probably jumped up there with him. It was amazingly intimate, and very funny, as Ray Davies was interacting with the crowd in a hugely enjoyable way. And the songs. Those bloody marvellous unforgettable songs.

He saved the best till last.

A brilliant one, I've never heard before about his brother Dave - it summed up exactly how I will feel in a few years when no 1 goes out into the big bad world, another new one called The Getaway (God, I MUST have that album...) and then, oh joy, Lo-lo-lo-lo-lo fantastic wonderful witty Lola. Oh the joy. Had he ended there, my cup would have runneth over...

But he didn't.

We got an encore.

And then we got another one.

And STILL we hadn't had I Really Got You.

But finally it came. And boy was it worth waiting for. For anyone who has his album The Storyteller, you'll know that Ray was playing the first few bars on his piano in one room and he called Dave into listen. I don't get it says, Dave, till Ray ratchets it up a notch, and then another, and then another...

By the time he'd exploded into I REALLY GOT YOU, I doubt that there was a single person in the Albert Hall not on their feet. It was absolutely brilliant. Spouse and I dancing to our favourite song, practically touching the legend who wrote it. It doesn't get much better then that.

And then it did.

Because having got us all screaming, he quietened us down with a wonderful rendition of Waterloo Sunset, which has to be about Waterloo Bridge because there isn't a bridge at Liverpool Station...

Then he brought Mick Avory and another Kinks member whose name I forget back on stage to finish off with an anthem thumping Victoria. Not my favourite song. But it worked.

As no 1 would say, Ray Davies rocks.

And for two and a half perfect hours.

So did we.


Dumdad said...

Sounds absolutely brilliant.

Thanks for sharing that although I'm SO envious!

My all-time greatest rock singer is Paul Rodgers. My wife and I saw him in concert in Paris when he was fronting Queen. He did not disappoint.

P.S. Did the Kinks do Days?

Jane Henry said...

Oh yes, he did do Days. I forgot to mention it. There was just so much I can't remember it all!

And Days was really really good. It made me think of my dad actually and felt really appropriate...

Wonderboy said...

The show was all that as described above and even more if you can believe it! It was that freaking amazing. Left out of the review was another new song called " Imaginary Man " from Ray's next album due out later this year and to say that it is pure genius is an understatement. It's as good as anything he has ever written going back to the KinKs in the 60's. If Ray is not God already than God should add him to the list of his one and only other thing on it to save and that being The KinKs.
God Save Ray Davies...

Frank Lima
Montvale, New Jersey USA
( and yes I was there and he did do Days ! )

Jane Henry said...

Hi Wonderboy... glad you enjoyed it too. It was fantastic wasn't it?

Yes, I liked Imaginary Man too, but there was just so much and I hadn't taken my note pad with me, so I was trying to remember it all!

Have just about come back down to earth, but Spouse and I had a bit of Kinks fest at the weekend.

I am going to have to get his new album!!!