Review - Dave Davies, July 31, 2001, World Trade Center plaza, New York, New York

Date: August 1, 2001 1:14 PM
From: Matthew R Cutugno

What a town of pleasant surprises New York City can be. Today was a beautiful summer day, around 80 degrees, low humidity, bright sun and a cool breeze. To top it off, the World Trade Center's Summer Sounds series featured a free outside, lunch-time concert with none other than Dave Davies, and I was lucky enough to be there.

The crowd that gathered at the show's start (billed as "Kinks Kronicles") was the largest of the series, which had featured, each week, "oldies" acts such as Herman Hermits (!), The Chantels, and the Box Tops, with Alex Chilton (coming next week, Mountain!). But there's something about Kinks music that will never be old, it's forever of the moment, and this crowd knew that before the first song played.

Dave was in good form. Dressed in a lavender shirt and black slacks, he seemed nervous at first, surprised at the turnout, and his backup band (a second guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboard player) appeared, well, just a bit under-rehearsed.

I arrived a couple songs in (Man, I hate having to work), during Death of a Clown, but I made my way up to the front of the stage, where a fine collection of diehards, young and old, stood transfixed.

The set was, in a word, great. Dave played two recent songs, Fortis Green, and a song called Mysteries (which I hadn't heard before and which is a fine song, available, he reminded us, only on his website), then settled into some Kinks classics. He loosen up, kidded with the audience, urging them to sing and clap along. By the time he played This Man He Weeps Tonight, the band was warmed-up and rocking. He spoke of one of his favorite Kinks album, Arthur, and then sang "Young and Innocent Days." It was a lovely, quiet moment, and you could tell that the song his brother had written spoke strongly to him.

At this point, he put aside the acoustic guitar he'd been playing, and was handed an electric. The crowd knew what was coming, and the couple hundred who had been sitting in folding chairs arranged in rows in the beautiful Trade Center plaza were on their feet. Dave played "Living on a Thin Line." Written over twenty year ago, it might have been written yesterday (as the producers of "The Sopranos" knew when they used it).

It's hard to explain the feeling I felt (and I could tell others felt too), when Dave played the famous chords to introduce All Day and All of the Night. It was like seeing an old friend you forgot you had and hadn't expected to see again. Even the most marginal Kinks fan in the plaza knew that song. In the middle of it, Dave moved up the very apron of the stage to bend way over and play a rousing lead riff. Needless to say, it brought back memories.

The lunch-time concert series is supposed to feature short sets, but the audience wouldn't have it. They gave the band a great hand, Dave mentioned how kind everyone was, and you could tell he meant it. The band launched into a long intro into I'm Not Like Everybody Else. This might be the most purely Kinks song, the one that tells you the most about what they were all about, and hearing it reminded me how damn relevant it is today. (He asked the audience "Are you like everybody else? I know I'm not!"). Most of the crowd knew each word by heart. As Dave sang, I couldn't help but get emotional.

He thanked the crowd profusely at this point, but came back for another encore. Believe it or not, the band played Father Christmas, and it was perfect. The last day of July in New York, and we were treated to such a wild, winter classic, played with a lot of heart. At this point there wasn't a single seat with someone seated in it.

Dave left the stage, and entered One World Trade Center, where several dozens fans waited. He patiently signed copies of CDs, vinyl albums, shirts, a baby carriage with a baby in it, posters, palms of hands, you name it.

It was a memorable couple hours. I'm profoundly glad Dave and Ray are still playing, still touring (I saw Ray at the Jane Street Theater in New York last summer). It's reassuring to know they're with us. God Save the Kinks.