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Ray Davies live!

| March 17, 2010

Riviera, Chicago
Saturday, March 13, 2010

A show that could have been billed AcoustiKinks ambled along smoothly if unexceptionally on Saturday night, until Ray Davies remembered from whence he came.

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It wasn’t as if Davies (pronounced Davis, for you Notre Damers) was oblivious; no, the former Kinks frontman sarcastically dedicated a portion of his set to “Soundtrack Kinks,” cheerfully knocking off cuts that have appeared in various motion pictures over the years. But, seated and mostly acoustic with a sole accompanist for 90-percent of the proceedings, his cheeky self-awareness did let him down as he unironically bashed Abba’s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame election from his rocking chair.

The treat, however, of a Davies show is that his songs (for American audiences at least) aren’t as over-trodden as those of his ’60s contemporaries. Where “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Sympathy For The Devil” lose meaning with each play, set opener “This Is Where I Belong,” “I Need You,” and “See My Friends” (recently revived on the Kinks Choral Collection) feel like intimate sessions, old songs dug out of the trunk for a campfire play. That’s not to suggest a quaint atmosphere (a thousands-strong assembly of 40-year-olds can hardly be called quaint), as the anthemic “Victoria” and “Sunny Afternoon” powered through.

Still, as the evening wore on, a sense of too-much-ease began to overwhelm. Davies has come off as charmingly cantankerous in some interviews, and the fact of this loll was beginning to feel like a round of knock-knock jokes with John Lydon. The “soundtrack” portion had barely ended, however, when the big (rather, smaller) guitars came out and instantly the chords to “All Day And All Of The Night” rang out. Suddenly, an earlier acoustic bid at “You Really Got Me” was demolished by a distorted version, then “David Watts” . . . fa-fa-fa-fa fa fa fa fa!

— Steve Forstneger

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  1. Gregory J Malis says:

    This was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had in a long time. I haven’t picked up an Illinois Entertainer in such a long time as it has become such an irrelevance in my life. ABBA in the same sentence as rock and roll? You got to to be kidding – who would need irony? Self explanatory. And 88 was great, problem a tad higher than your IQ ~ ambled indeed!!!