When former Kinks lead guitarist Dave Davies announced to the club’s sold-out house that his next song, “The Healing Boy” would be “dedicated to my beautiful grandson,” the last word must have been a little jarring to his original fans, many of whom seemed to be in attendance.
OK, Davies (the father of eight) is now 66 years old, but he is best remembered as the wild 17 year-old who came over to America in 1964 with the longest hair of any British Invasion group member, who gulped down pills like they were going out of style, slept with whichever sex he pleased (at a time when being bi-sexual was technically illegal in his native England) and basically shoved his proverbial middle finger at staid middle-class society.
Davies’ show last night was more than just a triumphant comeback; it was a true lovefest between Davies and his overtly enthusiastic followers. The main reason for the nearly ten year lapse from his last U.S. appearance was a 2004 stroke that temporarily paralyzed his right side so severely that he had to relearn how to speak. As he originally couldn’t even pick up a paper clip or hold a guitar pick, the veteran performer had to totally teach himself from scratch how to sing and play the guitar simultaneously.
This evening, smartly attired in a black sports jacket with matching slacks and a red crimson shirt, (always the British dandy) Davies alternated between 14 songs from his Kinks’ days (like “Tired Of Waiting For You,” “All Day and All of The Night,” and “Living On A Thin Line,”) his solo recordings (“Flowers In The Rain,” “Fortis Green”) and numbers from his soon-to-be released album I Will Be Me, (“Remember The Future” and “Little Green Amp.”)
Ably backing up Davies were three members of a hot Los Angeles based band, Jigsaw Seen, consisting of guitarist Jonathan Lee, bass player Tom Currier, and drummer Teddy Freese, all of whom worked on Davies’ cd.
With Davies’ fans, the more obscure the songs are the better. So, loud cheers emanated for “Creeping Jean,” the b-side of a 1969 flop single planned for an aborted solo album.
Davies was clearly in seventh heaven as he lead the crowd in a sing-a-long of probably his best loved song, “Death of A Clown,” co-written with brother Ray.
Through the evening, his guitar playing was strong, and his vocals, while sometimes cracking while he was straining to reach those fabled high notes, were for the most part in fine form.
While contemporaries like The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys have raked in big bucks with 50th anniversary tours, that doesn’t seem in the works for the Kinks, the band Davies co-founded with the late bassist Pete Quaife in 1963, before Ray joined. (The volatile relationship between the Davies brothers is of course, legendary.)
The set ended with two encores which included “Milk Cow Blues,” a second rendering of perhaps his signature song, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” and the title song of the forthcoming cd, “I Will Be Me (Cote du Rhone”)
The band returned for the number everyone was waiting for, “You Really Got Me,” the song that springboarded The Kinks career, with Dave’s revolutionary solo that gave birth to heavy metal, punk and other genres. However, the version performed tonight seemed rushed, and lacked the passion of most of the other songs performed during the evening.
Nevertheless, the show was everything a Davies fan could have hoped for, although there are so many unheralded gems in his catalog like “Susannah’s Still Alive,” “Mindless Child of Motherhood,” and “Look Through Any Doorway,” that obviously many had to be left out of his highly engaging, 95 minute set.
Dave…it’s great to have you back !