Review - Ray Davies, Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, California

From: Allan Hirsch
Date: July 15, 2006

Ray's trip to Northern California this week was a study in contrasts.

On Wednesday, July 12, he played an outdoor concert at the Mountain Winery in upscale Saratoga, in the mountains south of San Jose. On Thursday, July 13, Ray was about 60 miles north at the venerable Warfield Theatre in the heart of San Francisco. The theatre is located next to an adult theatre on a sleazy block of Market Street that seems to be right out of one of the Big Bill Broonzy songs that Ray frequently cites as one of his important influences. But the Warfield has played host over the years to many great rock bands from San Francisco and elsewhere, so it was only fitting that Ray added his name to the list.

The aging theatre was about 75% full when Ray and his band took the stage. He exuded his usual energy and charm in a 100-minute show that covered 21 songs, supplemented with his stories and quips about his American influences, global touring, New Orleans, making his first solo album and, of course, brother Dave and the Kinks. His four-piece band was tight and they did a good job of giving the songs the power they deserve while staying enough in the background to ensure Ray had the spotlight. A blonde 20-something female vocalist joined the band for perhaps a fourth of the songs to help round out the sound, and she drew this quip from Ray: "You do have something in common with Dave. You both attract men."

Fans who were hoping to hear a Kinks greatest hits show may have been a little disappointed, as Ray played nine songs (almost half the show) from Other People's Lives. But a lot of fans (at least those right below the stage, where I was) knew the words to those songs almost as well as the Kinks classics, and the songs held their own just fine with the Kinks material. Don't book Ray on one of those nostalgia tours just yet!

Here is the playlist with a few comments thrown in:

The one shortcoming of the concert was that it was a bit short -- two hours would have been nice. But Ray gave it his all for the entire 100 minutes and, in the end, it was yet another day that everyone in the audience could thank him for.