Review - Ray Davies, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, ScotlandFrom: Ron Lancashire
Date: December 15, 2009
Ray Davies and His Band - Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow - 14 December 2009
"Postcard from Glasgow"
If there is a homely place in Scotland that you would want to be on a dreich Monday night in December, then you might try a full capacity Royal Concert Hall for a get together with Ray and the band. Ok...Its not the Kinks as we knew them, but this is probably as good as it gets, if not better.
I met Ray briefly prior to the concert and he did looked a bit tired after all the recent efforts across the pond, but a quick swallow of Scottish beer seemed to provide the necessary fuel for him to deliver the raft of songs, both new and old, that were about to be grasped eagerly by the Glasgow faithful sitting on their sofas. An acoustic version of "YRGM" coupled with "I Need You" opened the show and set the scene for Ray and Bill Shanley to get their respective Martin guitars into full drive mode ahead of the former show opener "I'm Not Like everybody Else". The first coherent shout from the stalls led Ray into "Apeman" and a good excuse for us to substitute the "fogging up my eyes" line with the original intended lyric! From his more recent works, Ray introduced "In a Moment" and "Hymn for a New Age, both fine songs from the Working Mans Café album.
More coherent shouts...followed by acoustic versions of "Waterloo Sunset" and "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", the latter providing Ray with the opportunity to do his Johnny Cash impression. Then another sing along with "Autumn Almanac" before Karin and Ian made a fleeting appearance to augment "Long Way from Home" dedicated to Dave Davies. When is the band coming on stage? Hmmm.... "Sunny Afternoon" on a cool Scottish evening is just the ticket and, of course, no invitation is need for the ensemble to echo back the words of song written so many years ago. A quick segway into "Dead End Street" provided further remembrances for many a man and woman and this paved the way for the entrance of the rest of the band, Ian Gibbons, Dick Nolan and the vibrant young drummer Damon Wilson. Then we had a quick respite from the pace through Ray's reference to his time in New Orleans and his time in hospital recovering from the gun shot sustained in January 2004. So the inspiration for the "Morphine Song", but not for the wonderful "Celluloid Heroes" which remains one of the finest songs to emanate from the limitless pen.
So to thoughts of Chic Murray and Davey Graham, both departed but still an inspiration to Ray through their respective comical stand up and folk musical ways. Not one to miss an opportunity to promote a newly released single, Ray gently appraises the faithful to a "Postcard from London", this time without Chrissie Hynde, but ably assisted by Bill and Karin on backing vocals. Well it is the Christmas season after all.
But now the strains of the opening chords of "Till the End of the Day" courtesy of Ray's Stratocaster. He muses "Where are you now Dave Davies?" Where indeed. Never a truer word spoken in jest or perhaps sincerity? The front room party moves up a pace and in volume alongside the old chestnut of "Where Have All The Good Times Gone". A bold shout from the upper tier area for Muswell Hillbillies is rewarded by a few chords of the same that neatly leads into the rarely heard "Vietnam Cowboys", This was, amazingly, interspersed with a bridge into 32 bars of the old Shadows classic instrumental "Apache" brilliantly played by Bill Shanley on lead guitar. Then to 1965 for "Well Respected Man" with full crowd participation and a reprise, before moving forward to life as "The Tourist".
Well friends, this has been a meeting in the front room with Ray and his many faceted songbook and saying goodbye isn't easy without some emotion. So the haunting "Days" fills many here this evening with that emotion and thoughts that make us all reflect on our lives. But that's no way to leave the Kinkdom of Glasgow is it? Nope. The first encore has the front room rocking to the timeless power of "You Really Got Me". And so to the second and final encore of "Lola". Give the people what they want indeed.
So I better complete this Postcard before the lights go out.
The weather is now fine in Glasgow and I wish you were here. We all gathered round the Christmas tree this evening in this big front room and what do you know? Father Christmas arrived early this year.
Have yourself a very merry Christmas, Have yourself a good time!