Review - Ray Solo, 29 November 1995, Adelaide, Australia

From: Murray Bramwell
Date: Sat, 2 Dec 1995 15:34:44 +1030
Subject: Ray in Australia

Ray in Adelaide

Murray Bramwell
School in English and Drama
Flinders University

I am a theatre and music critic, also academic, working out of Adelaide. I have enclosed my review of Ray Davies published in the national daily, The Australian, 1/12/95 - Arts on Friday pages. That was a general piece. Here are some some additional details....

RD arrived by plane late afternoon from Perth. The show (no support act) began twenty minutes late at 8.20. Closed about 10.30


RDD in good form getting the crowd singing along -immediately. Quite a few English migrants in the audience- good rapport. Peter Mathison, visibly weary, yawning uncontrollably at times. The tour dates are punishing - the current list for Australia now has 3 shows in Sydney and 2 (at least) in Melbourne. RDD dressed in black suit with black shirt and waistcoat, changed to striped shirt about half way through. I was interested that he used no keyboards. His voice was a bit rattly to begin with but really settled in with some great phrasing in Victoria and from then on. I thought To the Bone was a knockout song and he did a very tender version of Days . He of course read extracts from X-Ray= as far I can see there were no variations from the reviews posted over the past six weeks or so.

I was most curious to see whether he would make any specific references to Adelaide. A typically parochial response on my part of course- but X-Ray reveals so much relevant link with Adelaide in the Arthur part of the narrative. His sister Rosie and family moved to Elizabeth in Adelaide's northern industrial suburbs in the early 60s and RDD mentions making brief stopovers to see the family even when the band were not playing here.

I hoped that he might have read some of this material -pp.206-209 in the Penguin edition of X-Ray. Also some tracks from Arthur- the title track, Australia, etc. But it was not to be. It is an interesting aspect of X-Ray and one of the things which makes it such a perceptive social document that links such as those with Australia and NZ are referred to. Bands in Australia like AC/DC, the Easybeats, Jimmy Barnes's band Cold Chisel- all came from the UK migrant community. The legendary Bon Scott, original lead singer for AC/DC came from Elizabeth.

One last comment - my partner was convinced that Rosie and her family were sitting in the row in front of us. Her friend also thought so. I'm less sure but it's a nice story. As always happens in such situations- none of us was quite sure enough to ask....

Murray Bramwell/ The Australian 1.12.95. p.12 (Arts on Friday)

Ray Davies

Her Majesty's

Just when you thought nostalgia isn't what it used to be- along comes Ray Davies. Except that this one-Kink show, which has been touring the known world since its acclaimed debut at the Edinburgh Festival, is much more than a greatest hits fest. Drawing from Davies's recent "unauthorised autobiography", X-Ray, the two hour show is an intelligent, wonderfully wry mix of music and memoir.

Raymond Douglas Davies is the exceptionally talented leader of an exceptional band. When the Kinks first released You Really Got Me, the blend of brother, Dave Davies's gutsy guitar and Ray's nasally-challenged vocals equalled instant hit. And defined mod style.

While much is made of the Beatles and Stones, it is the Kinks who are the godfathers of English pop, influencing everyone from contemporaries, like the Who and Small Faces, to Eighties groups like XTC and Madness. And now, more than thirty years after their foppish looks and sly social criticism made the Kinks so singular, they receive open homage from bands like Oasis and Damon Albarn's London band, Blur.

Onstage, Davies is full of beans. Notoriously reclusive and ambivalent about his pop success, the current project has clearly energised him. The success of X-Ray is surely part of the reason. In a genre dominated by lumpy ghostwriting, Davies has written a highly imaginative exploration of memory and the curious relation between past and present. Framed as an interview in the 21st century the book precisely, sometimes harrowingly, recalls the experience of success at twenty, the rapacity of the music industry and the anxieties of talent.

Alternating between cut-down, semi-acoustic performances of the songs, accompanied by guitarist Peter Mathison, and readings from X-Ray, Davies gives a potted history of his life in art. Opening with Dedicated Follower of Fashion and Sunny Afternoon, his vocals are initially ricketty but he has the audience, some of them Muswell Hillbillies themselves, singing lyrics now permanently embedded in the DNA of most forty-fivesomethings.

Davies has written many great songs and familiar as they are, performed in his keening, expressive style, they are still fresh- Autumn Almanac, Tired of Waiting, Set Me Free and See My Friends. There are new songs as well- 20th Century Man, variation on his ubiquitous Village Green theme, and The London Song, a celebration of the villages of Hampstead, Highgate and Muswell Hill.

Some of the new songs are as much elaborations of the readings as discrete works. Americana (Big Fat Cowboy) for instance, garnished with some tasty electrics from Mathison, is an extended talking blues about the Kinks in the new world. But To the Bone and She Was Really Animal are A-grade Ray. As are, we are powerfully reminded, the inimitable Lola and the lambent Waterloo Sunset.

Selecting the gentler sections from his often ascerbic book, Davies closes with an account of a meeting with his father at Streatham Ice Rink where the Kinks had just performed their Number One Hit- You Really Got Me. And he sings Days. Thank you for the days. Make that -thank you for the Davies.
E-mail Dave Emlen