Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Concert Review: Ray Davies at the Fitzgerald Theater

Last night I saw Ray Davies at the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul. It was a terrific show. I’ve seen Ray in concert once before, at First Avenue back in 2006. That was an amazing show as well. Ray seemed to be pretty chipper, after the first song he said, “I’m in a good mood tonight.” He didn’t tell as many stories as he did when I saw him five years ago, and it was a slightly shorter show, an hour and a half versus two and a half hours. Ray still looks and sounds good, he’s as thin as ever, and he was jumping around the stage as usual. (But he didn’t balance a bottle of beer on his head-a usual Ray trademark.) For the first half of the concert, he was accompanied by just Bill Shanley on guitar, who did a tremendous job playing the guitar licks that Dave Davies made famous. The first half was my favorite, as hearing all of Ray’s great songs with only two guitars really highlights how classic these songs are, and how well they stand up even 45 years after they were written. It was amazing hearing Ray sing “Waterloo Sunset,” one of the most beautiful songs ever written. We even got to help out on the “sha-la-las.” (Ray really loves having the audience sing along!)

For the second half of the show, Ray was joined by the band the 88, who were also the opening act. The 88 did a great job, but the sound mix was really loud. It’s something that annoys me about rock concerts, how the sound just gets all muddy once 4 or 5 people start playing together. The subtlety of the playing just gets lost, and I can’t hear individual parts anymore. Can’t they make it sound like a record, where you can hear the different parts? Anyway, Ray rocked out more Kinks classics with the 88 backing him, like “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” and “Till the End of the Day.” Ray dedicated “A Long Way From Home” to his brother Dave, which he also did when I saw him in 2006. The show was very 60’s-centered, the most recent song Ray played was the encore, “Low Budget,” from 1979. Ray said something towards the end of the show about putting out a new record next year, which would be great. A highlight of the second half was Ray digging deep into his back catalogue and pulling out the “Face to Face” track “Too Much on My Mind.” And “Celluloid Heroes” is really one of Ray’s best songs; it was fun to hear that one as well. All in all, it was a really great show by a rock and roll legend.

Here are the songs that Ray sang, in mostly correct order:

Acoustic, with Bill Shanley:

I Need You

Sunny Afternoon

Dead End Street

Waterloo Sunset


A Long Way From home

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

See My Friends

Victoria-partial, which segued into:

20th Century Man-in which Ray was joined by the 88

This Is Where I Belong

I'm Not Like Everybody Else

Where Have All the Good Times Gone?

Tired of Waiting for You

David Watts-sung by the 88

Nothing in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout that Girl

Too Much On My Mind

Till the End of the Day

All Day and All of the Night

Celluloid Heroes

You Really Got Me

Low Budget-encore

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