Review - Ray Davies, October 19, 2001, John Anson Ford Theater, Los Angeles, CA

Date: October 20, 2001 3:41 PM
From: Rob Peirson

The John Anson Ford Amphitheater is one of the oldest performing arts venues in Los Angeles still in use. The open-air amphitheater sits on a 45 acre park-like setting in the Cahuenga Pass. The Ford Amphitheater was built in 1920 as the site of the Pilgrimage Play; it was then known as the Pilgrimage Theater. The structure gradually deteriorated until the late, former County Supervisor John Anson Ford obtained funding for capital improvements several decades ago. The 1245 seat outdoor Ford Amphitheater is set against a backdrop of cypresses and chaparral. It is relatively intimate: no patron is more than 96 feet away from the stage.

The parking at this place is very tight and they stack the cars in. We were fortunate to be arriving just a few minutes before showtime and got re-routed to near the exit. Security was high and they had a table out and had everyone empty their pockets. Our seats were about eight rows back to the side a bit.

Pete walked on stage from the right, sat down and positioned his guitar. Moments later, to much applause, Ray walked on from the left carrying his beige briefcase and the book, X-Ray. They bounced in with a lively Come Dancing much to the delight of the audience. Ray mentioned that he was working on a new album and had a song that he was unlikely to put on it but he thought he would play it for us, possibly his one and only performance. Reading from a lyric sheet, they began to play. The song began as Going to LA and spoke of renting a car, seeing the beach, hanging out waiting for a gig and how everything was "wonderful". At the end of the song he said, "I wrote this last night". I wonder if he performs a local inspired song at all his shows this time around.

Ray opened his "black book of X-Ray", referred to a couple of pages (page 298 for one) for the audience to read. He looked back to the last century, 100 years ago when Great Britain had an empire and broke into Victoria. He began reading from the black book at page 1, "My name is of no importance . . . being mediocre I rose" which lead into 20th Century Man. Next he talked of living in the suburbs of London and spoke of Fresno, a town he saw on his way down to this show as he slide into London Town. As in all of his Storyteller shows he gave the story of his older sisters and the sudden introduction of a new boy, Dave. He talked of his sisters boyfriends and how they would play the sexy, subversive, Old Black Magic.

Reminiscing about the front room, next came Tired of Waiting. He then did his dialogue of his dad and how they came upon buying the 8 watt green amp followed by Where Have All the Good Times Gone. He told the story of Dave and Ray's first gig using the green amp and how his sister's boyfriend helped them get the gig and then moved into Set Me Free. He talked of Dave jamming mom's knitting needle into the green amp to get that Chuck Berry, Memphis, Tennessee sound, renaming it the Fart Box. He then spoke of his sister's wake in the front room and softly sang See My Friends.

A new segment from his past storytellers shows was the story of his sister Rosie and brother-in-law Arthur moving to Australia. In the front room he said everyone danced and sang, except the brother-in-laws. He played an engaging version of Australia, the first time I have heard that song live. Next he introduced the only song about gardening to hit number three in the UK charts, Autumn Almanac. He did the Hunchback dialogue prior to performing X-Ray. He ripped into I Am Not Like Everyone Else which was one of the highlights of the show for me. It is always great seeing him toy with the audience to get them in unison to shout that they are all individuals. This was followed directly by a great rendition of Hardway.

A person brought a Stout Ale on stage, he said he needed more head on it, talked more of his dad went into the story about Dave playing like he spoke and more stories of the front room. Ray was having problem with the tuning of his guitar and looked for his tuner who was nowhere to be seen. He walked towards the edge of the staged, yelled at someone and leaned the guitar against some speakers on stage. Moments later the guitar tuner came on stage and got it and returned a bit later. While this was going on he told the story of Mick Avory joining the band. The next song his did was Dedicated Follower of Fashion in which he intertwined the story of the Kinks three managers. Next was the Way Love Used to Be followed by an upbeat Well Respected Man. Ray returned to the story of his Managers, the three song contract, with the first two failing. This lead into It's Alright.

Looking into the crowd for Julie Finkle (a girl up front kept jumping up waving) he played The Ballad of Julie Finkle. The third single was his next topic. Returning to the front room he came up with the song that would make them a hit and Dave's role in the opening riff and played You Really Got Me. Leaving the stage to a standing packed house.

Returning for the encore he offered up a crowd pleasing rendition of Waterloo Sunset. On this tour Ray is inviting local musicians to join him on stage for a song. Tonight Matthew Sweet came on stage, grabbed a guitar and sang along with Ray to This is Where I Belong. It was a nice moment and Matthew held his own. Ray mentioned that he had wished someone had done that for him when he was trying to get his break. Announcing this to be the song that got him into trouble he launched into Lola with the crowd still on its feet singing along. The show ended with him working the front row, shaking hands.

When will Ray do the same format show with experiences from the 70's 80's and 90's?

Looking forward to Ray's next phase, hoping Dave and he make some music together again.

Rob Peirson