Review - Ray Davies, The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland

From: Ron and Ray Lancashire
Date: May 15, 2007

Ray Davies and his Band

The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland
7 May 2007

The Festival Theatre (formerly known as the Empire Theatre) is one of Edinburgh's oldest surviving theatres and it has been a venue to many great vaudeville acts over the decades. In its halcyon days, Laurel and Hardy, Roy Rogers and Trigger, SnakeHips Johnson, Harry Gordon, Max Miller and Dave Willis amongst many other great vaudeville acts have appeared there over the last 100 years. Indeed, our own grandfather was a trumpet player in the theatre band that supported so many of these acts in the 1930s/40s/50s. This review is dedicated to him as well.

So it was a real pleasure to see the quintessential stand up Englishman join this illustrious band of board-treaders legends to entertain a bank holiday Edinburgh audience, in this, his third Scottish gig of 2007. The gentle folk of Auld Reekie are sometimes known for their less than spiritual association with some artistes but this was quickly sorted out with the opening Davies anthem of "I'm Not Like Everybody Else". Quickly moving into "Where Have All the Good Times Gone" and the "Till the End of the Day", Ray began to get the upper hand of any remaining doubters. Even by Kinks standards, the volume was loud but then it is always best to sit in the balcony seats!

"After The Fall", "Next Door Neighbours" and "The Tourist" had a few unknowing heads being scratched so.. IF you haven't heard the "Other People's Lives" solo album from 2006 then you need to do so quickly. "Autumn Almanac" was dedicated to the joint authors of this review. Thanks Ray! Much appreciated indeed.

"Well Respected Man" coupled with "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" kept those stuck in the 1960s happy and tickety boo, although the two verses of "Harry Rag" had many memories checking back to see whether indeed they ever bought the "Something Else by The Kinks" album or was it just a fantasy. "Celluloid Heroes" is with out doubt one of the most underrated and underplayed songs that Ray Davies has ever written, yet it is, when played as originally produced as it was this evening, ever achingly beautiful in terms of melody and lyric.

With legs crossed and prostrate glands wondering, The Muswell Hillbilly "20th Century Man" took us to the intermission.

After a quick couple of libations and ear recovery tablets, the ensemble dutifully trooped back to hear Ray open the second part of the set with a new song "No One's Gonna Listen". Like all RD new songs, it takes a while to bed in the listener, but all augers well for a new album from Ray on this showing. "Come Dancing" sent the ladies down to the front of the stage for a Scottish jig. Hmmm..We wonder if our grandfather would have liked growing up and playing in this band?

The dancing ladies slowed down a bit for a great rendition of "Village Green", but they all swayed to the still surprising "I Go to Sleep", before Ray kicked up the tempo again with a great outing of "Dead End Street" which had all the audience singing and clapping and it stayed that way with that long-time favourite, "Sunny Afternoon".

By the time "Tired of Waiting" and "Set Me Free" were pounding out, the dancing ladies had formed a line right along the length of the stage - strange goings on indeed for this sometimes staid city!!! And dance they did as "All Day and All of the Night" had the balcony shaking and those seated there wishing they were down with the dancing ladies!

"Long Way From Home", Ray lyrical warnings to brother Dave, started the first encore and set the mood for "The Getaway (Lonesome Train)", another personal favourite of ours from "Other People's Lives".

And what would any Kinks/Ray Davies/Dave Davies concert be without "Lola" to dispel any doubters that RD can write the best sing along songs in the business?? No question about it, the stand up singer had the people in the palm of his incredibly talented hand.

But there was more to come in the third encore featuring the still fresh-sounding "Days", a truly beautiful version of "Waterloo Sunset" and a bring down the house "You Really Got Me", and a Monday evening audience of fans poured out into the cold May evening with smiles on their collective faces, bruised eardrums and many a RD tune on their lips.

Slainte Mhath!

Ron and Ray Lancashire