The Kinks, a Rock Band, at Palladium With Two Brand-New Members
The Kinks were at their most glorious at the Palladium Friday evening, offering a performance as charged with revitalized energy as it was rich with memories. The set was far from seamless, but technical perfection was very much beside the point: what mattered was the ferocity with which the group attacked the various challenges at hand.
Two members of the five-man band, Jim Rodford, bassist, and Gordon Edwards, pianist, are brand new. The three other members, Ray and Dave Davies and the drummer Mick Avory, have a lot to live up to, as veterans of the most durable and quixotic of all rock bands. The Kink's career has been long and spotty, but that's what makes their triumphs so gratifying. This was one of those triumphs.
Ray Davies, who sings, writes and wriggles through almost all of the band's material, strode onto the stage dressed very much as he might have in the mid-sixties, looking dapper in a dark suit and bow tie as the band played "You Really Got Me," one of it's oldest hits. It might have been Johnny Carson striding out to the "Tonight Show" theme, so long has Mr. Davies been linked with the song.
He didn't dwell on it, though: instead, he made it a springboard to the present, launching into a version of "Life on the Road" from last year's "Sleepwalker" LP. There have been times when the group needed to rely on old, faithful numbers to get through a concert, songs like "Lola" and "Sunny Afternoon" and "Celluloid Heroes," all of which they performed on Friday. This time the old songs were thrilling and the new ones even more so.
Most of the evening's high points came from the groups wonderful current album, one of their very best, called "Misfits." What made the new numbers work especially well was the care and vigor with which they were juxtaposed with previous ones. When Mr. Davies sang "Waterloo Sunset," arguably his greatest song, he swiftly followed it with "Misfits," which managed to sound not only like an extension of the previous piece but also a heartbreakingly lovely improvement upon it. The surge of new strength and the sheer hopefulness of the moment were positively magical.
The Kinks, particularly Mr. Davies, present themselves as permanent outsiders rather than rock royalty. This generates the kind of intimacy and sympathy that makes Kink's fans a particularly devoted and attentive audience. The crowd was accordingly affectionate in its reception in its reception of two songs by Dave Davies, who figures as a kind of underdog among underdogs, and of Ray's quiet, passionate rendition of "Get Back in the Line," a beautiful song that he seldom performs.
One thing Mr. Davies always runs through is "Alcohol," a blowsy music hall number that remains a crowd pleaser even though the group has long since exhausted its campy possibilities. This time, though, he did it relatively quickly, with a streamlined stylishness that distinguished the entire show. The group's apparent pruning of some of the wearier staples of its repertory was just one more sign of new promise.
Mr. Davies was fiercely animated in blasting out some of the brand new numbers, making songs like "Hay Fever" and especially "Permanent Waves" sound even better than they do on record. As the evening progressed, he grew ever more electrifying where he should have been exhausted, and after a couple of encores he remained on stage, shaking audience members hands, beaming. He had another show to do that same evening, but he looked as though that couldn't possibly tire him. He looked as though he could go on forever.
The New York Times, June 4, 1978