Review - Ray Davies, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland

From: Ron Lancashire
Date: May 7, 2010

Ray Davies and His Band - The Usher Hall, Edinburgh - 5 May 2010

Andrew Usher was already known as a generous man when he made his historic offer to the City of Edinburgh in July 1896 to found a concert hall. His £100,000 gift was his greatest and brought him fame as a philanthropist as well as a music lover and the son of a well-known distilling firm, now unfortunately taken over by one the bigger brewing corporations.

Little did he know then, that many other music and brewing lovers would make their dutiful outing again to see Ray perform again in this fine auditorium. "Not quite the Assembly Rooms" announced Ray reminding us of the many one man shows that he completed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1995 and 1997. "In fact, the Kinks performed Schoolboys in Disgrace on this very stage many years ago" he recalled. More than a few heads nodded in remembrance of that particular evening! That said, Ray, accompanied by Bill Shanely opened the set with "This is Where I Belong" from the earliest days of Ray's songwriting book before they bashed out acoustic versions of "I Need You" and "Where Have All the Good times Gone".

Suitably limbered up, the ensemble were introduced to "In a Moment" before the duo played their way through the unplugged versions of "Autumn Almanac" ,"Dedicated Follower of Fashion" and the intrigue of "See My friends". "I try not to play Sunny Afternoon these days" muses Ray, but he bows to pressure and engages the Usher Hall choir in the memory engrained chorus. Albeit that "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" was a classic live Kinks experience, the unplugged version still strikes a chord in the individual psyche.

"And so to a new feature of the show" Ray announces as he sets about playing a few of his songs that have featured in recent year movies. First up is "Nothin' In The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl" from the Kinda Kinks album in 1965, ably assisted by Bill, and Ian "Kast Off Kinks" Gibbons on the accordion: "Too Much On My Mind" and "Well Respected Man" follow on. A call for "Powerman" goes unheard on the stage. Damn it! I must shout louder in the future from the back stalls! But all is forgiven, as the enduring and wonderful "Waterloo Sunset" flows round the hall.

Then......before your very watery eyes, an impromptu "Harry Rag" befalls us to allow for a change of guitars thus enabling the strains of "Victoria" from a bygone era. If you have read the review of this concert via The Scotsman newspaper, you may have been left with the impression that many folks appeared to leave after hearing the Kinks songs that they had come to hear! Let me correct that assumption...the simple explanation is that the bar was still open and doing a roaring trade and it is, of course, thirsty work being part of this entourage.

Oh ! and just in case you had forgotten his X Ray autobiography, Ray gives us a short reading again...Ah....tis time for the rest of the band to appear and render a belting version of "20th Century Man".

"The Tourist" which I suspect is still new to some people tells of Ray's time in the Deep South. No bigger hassle and life threatening experience as one might have is recalled through the "Morphine Song" and the vivid description of Nelson and Star therein.

And so after being refuelled at the Usher Hall bar, and a quick dash back by those who had allegedly left, Ray and the band set about bashing heads and ears with an electric "Till The End of the Day". If you had come to hear one of the all time classics, then you were not to be disappointed in "Celluloid Heroes". Then, for good measure, another ear bashing with the punkish "Hard Way" - happy days indeed.

Dipping into the last two studio solo albums, "Working Man's Café" gives us some mild hope that Ray and Dave might work together again after a cuppa tea and a greasy spoon Well, some of us do live in hope! "After The Fall" sets out the need for all to recover after life's ups and downs.

Back then to giving the people what they want with "Tired of Waiting" and "Set Me Free" start the final sing a long again before we had our ears bent back with "All Day and All of the Night" (albeit without Dave's barking dawg guitar!). Sorry is close, but still a bit to go...

"Days" remains one of the best songs that Ray Davies has ever written and there is no doubt that it will be played by someone, somewhere, long after we all have had our ashes scattered. But as the curfew arrived and passed, Ray brought the band back on stage for one final encore. The faithful longed for one more chance to hear either "Lola" or "YRGM"- both if possible. It was the former that wins the day as another fine evening in the front room comes to an end.

Haste Ye Back, Ray.

Slainte Mhath

Set list:

Ray and Bill:
This is Where I Belong
I Need You
Where Have All the Good Times Gone
In A Moment
Autumn Almanac
Dedicated Follower of Fashion
See My friends
Sunny Afternoon
I'm Not Like Everybody Else
Nothin' in The World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl
Too Much On My Mind
Well Respected Man
Waterloo Sunset
Harry Rag

Ray and the Band:
20th Century Man
The Tourist
Morphine Song
Till The End of the Day
Celluloid Heroes
Hard Way
Working Man's Café
After The Fall
Tired of Waiting
Set Me Freev All Day and All of the Night