Tuesday, April 08, 2008

One More Time with Ray Davies (at the Beacon Theatre in NYC)

On the way to the concert this evening, I took along the latest New Yorker to read on the train from NJ. One man's reflection on mortality and end of life issues put me in a very gloomy frame of mind. The writer, Michael Kinsley, is my age. He writes of baby boomers facing the final elbow, and how no matter how much we work to extend our little lives, the odds are relentless. If you want to check it out, the article is online here.

The marquee at the Beacon Theatre announced: Ray Davies -- Sold Out! Underneath, a large crowd of mostly boomer-types mingled and buzzed. Still under the influence of Kinsley's meditation and the over-powering production of Macbeth I saw this past weekend, I entered the theatre acutely aware of the receding hairlines, the crinkles and crevices of age, and the stiffening spines of my fellow boomers.

Good heavens! How old is Ray now and how many years have we all been showing up for his shows? And can we really continue to believe that "you and me last forever -- all day and all of the night!"

Inside finally, and I feel comforted by a glorious old theatre with a carved and gilt covered early 20th century proscenium carefully preserved and now framing speakers, mic stands and guitars all ready for the show. A sudden darkening of the lights and suddenly, there he is, like so many times before. Front and center, music about to begin. My heart goes thump along with the opening chords -- it is one of my favorite anthems -- I'm Not Like Everybody Else. The audience goes wild, the aging boomers are young once again. We shriek and bob and sing along.

The show was more than I every could expect. Ray fed off the audience's energy and vice versa. We all sang every song, even the new ones. This was a dedicated audience. The set list is as follows (as best as I could scribble it down in the dark):

I'm Not Like Everybody Else
Where Have All the Good Times Gone?
Well Respected Man
Til the End of the Day
After the Fall
Dead End Street
The Tourist
20th Century Man (dedicated to his dad, "a socialist far left of Lenin")
Working Man's Cafe

Intermission. Kinky story: the restrooms were down stairs below orchestra level. For the first time in my life, the men's line was ten times longer than the women's! All the women were laughing about it, as we zipped round the long line of men. One said, well there never were very many women at Kinks concerts. Another said, too many older guys drinking too much beer!.

After the interval, Ray started solo with some songs from the new album:

In a Moment
One More Time
Vietnam Cowboys
The Real World (which is about a young woman Harvard grad who found herself tending bar in New Orleans)
Real World
No One Listens

Then he tossed in the rarely performed Fancy, followed by
Sunny Afternoon
Come Dancing
So Tired
Set Me Free
All Day and All of the Night

And then all these as encores:

Low Budget (This made me extraordinarily happy!)
Waterloo Sunset
Imaginary Man

Forgive me if I left anything out. I expect a complete set list will be posted at the Unofficial Kinks Web Site.

I took some pictures and will try to get some up once I'm home from vacation along with more thoughts and reflections.

Needless to say, I left the theatre in a far better mood than the one I had entering it. Ray had the answer for all the reflections upon mortality I had been drawn into. He said, "As long as I'm alive, I'll be writing songs."

As long as I'm alive, I'll be listening. Thanks Ray!


Dave P. said...

Wow, what a setlist! Glad you got to see such a great show, thanks for the report.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. seeing Ray is an experience not soon, if ever, to be forgotten. One small addition, he ended the second encore with "You Really Got Me."

Billy Gore said...

I loved the concert. Going back to the early sixties I was lucky enough to see a half dozen of their performance from the various eras of the Kinks.

Ray was wonderful. Needy, perhaps, but warm, generous with his time, and more genuine than most of the older artists.

Saw Bowie a few years ago at Mohegan Sun. Love him, but I felt he was going through the movements, smirking inside at the people who got the lyrics wrong.

Davies was open, enjoying, perhaps, that so many people could sing along to over thirty year old songs. That he could still sell-out locales such as the Beacon shows the enduring nature of his songs.

Haven't been well lately, but it was worth the walk to the Beacon to get a healing dose of one of the most wonderful writers and performers of my generation (and more). Love may he live!

microdot said...

Great Review and it made me wish I was there! I'm Not Like Anybody Else was a personal anthemn which I performed in the Band, Mr. Bubble, in the early 80's.
I saw the Kinks in Detroit 4 times in the 60's and 70's and Ray, when he was doing his solo/monologue performances at the Westbeth in NYC.

I got a copy of the new CD!

Don't you find this whole aging baby boomer thing kind of tedious?
(obviously in deep denial, I have more hair on my chin than my head these days)

Village Green said...

Thanks for the correction, Anon. And I wrote Real World twice. It was late and a very raw post to be sure. My final thoughts on the evening can be found here

Anonymous said...

I'm not a boomer, I'm gen-x. (39) I was there and I thought it was amazing. Sad that most people won't get to hear the new Ray album or appreciate it if they did.

Village Green said...

Anonymous Gen X -- I envy you your generational nickname. X is so much cooler than boomer. Then again, I shoulda been born into the punk generation as that is where my heart lies.