WELL-RESPECTED MAN: Ray Davies, Tower Theater, Saturday [by TIFFANY YOON]
BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE INQUIRER For anyone under 30, the best way to hear the music of the Kinks is by watching the films of Wes Anderson — pretty much any one will do, as they are all generously larded with choice Kinks cuts indelibly wedded to strikingly precious visual tableaux. Anyone over 30 should have gone to the Tower Theatre Saturday night to see Ray Davies, the man who wrote, strummed and sang all those classic, quintessentially English pop songs. Anderson’s films lend the Kinks’ music the kind of timeless vitality and trans-generational reach the members of the Kinks are no longer able to provide. The songs may transcend time, but the men who made them cannot, of course. Dave Davies, brother of Ray and lead guitarist of the Kinks, is currently convalescing from a debilitating stroke. Ray Davies almost died a few years back when he was shot in New Orleans by a mugger.
Saturday night he looked in fine form: trim, dressed in a stylish suit coat and crisp white shirt, his modish bob spiked with product. And he was clearly happy to be there. “My favorite audience, Philadelphia,” he said early on between songs, “And my brother’s, too.” And the capacity crowd — by and large a graying, Boomer-centric gathering of the tribes — was clearly jazzed to be in the same room with the man who made all those songs that still, all these years later, make them smile. But clearly we were witnessing a great artist in the autumn of his career: The voice is a little foggy, to put it charitably; he still seems to be finding his stage legs; the new solo album, Working Man’s Cafe, is subprime Ray at best; and his hired-gun backing band packs all the emotional IQ of the house band on a late-night talk show. But like I said, none of that mattered much in the moment, and we were all just happy to be in the same room.
Taking the stage alone, he began strumming and singing the first verse “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” — a song that boils down A Catcher In The Rye to three minutes of deathless jangle-pop — as his four-piece band took up their instruments and kicked in for the Big Rock second verse. And we were off. “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?,” “Till The End Of The Day,” “A Well-Respected Man” and “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” in quick succession (and before the end of the night, we got “Set Me Free,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “You Really Got Me,” “All Day And All Of The Night” and, of course, “Lola”). Davies is smiling, crowd ecstatic. And then came the six scariest words you could possibly hear — short of someone yelling ‘Fire!’ — at a concert like this: “This one’s from my new album.” Like I said, kid, stick with Rushmore.
MP3: Chocolate Watchband “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” Download