Review - Ray Solo, 4 December 1995, Sydney, Australia

Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 22:52:37 +1000
From: Phil Richards
Subject: Ray in Sydney

Well, I went to see Ray twice in Sydney and am only just recovering - it was such a fantastic experience to actually see the man in person and in such good form. I was in the second row and I hadn't been that close since Rugby in 1967, and I can honestly say he hasn't aged a day;-)

Both nights were pretty much identical in terms of content and timing. He started at 8.15 and finished at 10.25 and roughly followed the same pattern as other shows as reviewed here on the discussion group. I was disappointed not to hear Ballad of Julie Finkle because, after reading the book I felt this was going to be an integral part of the show.

I was also a little disappointed that he didn't sing Australia or talk about Rosie, his eldest sister, and Arthur, her husband, who migrated to Australia in the 60s. I felt that he could easily have made that connection for audiences downunder and it would have made for an interesting variation from his shows in other countries. As others have reported, there wasn't really an opportunity to make requests. Ray obviously had a set show which he was going get through by hook or by crook.

The only acknowledgements to actually being in Australia were when he said he was happy to be in Sydney and a slight raising of the eye-brows and a pause before the word Australia when he was singing Victoria.

With those reservations out of the way I can't really put into words the way I felt about being with all these other people who I didn't know existed but who were obviously just as keen on the Kinks as I am. Right from the first chorus of "'cos he's a dedicated follower of fashion" the whole audience were singing along ecstatically. My wife, who came with me the first night, said she thought it sounded like a Kinks Choir that had been rehearsing for weeks - everybody was so in time and in perfect tune.

I also have to agree with someone on this discussion group who said that it's clear from his performance that Ray is proud of his work. It's so obvious from the way he sang I Go To Sleep, Two Sisters and Days that he loves all his old songs as much as we do.

It's hard for me to pick out a highlight but I think it would have to be 'X-Ray', not so much because it's the best song he's ever written or anything, but because for me it sums up the whole concept of the show in its entirety. It seems to encapsulate what Ray is trying to put across in the book, the story, the whole of his (and the band's) life's work to date as brought together in this one event. And, because it's got his name in it, somehow it seems that that song is also saying it's appropriate he's doing it on his own (with a guitarist not associated with the band) because it's about him and his personal statement reflecting on his work. I'm grappling to make sense of this still and would be interested to hear what others think.

Anyway, I went (with about 20 others both nights) to the stage door after each show. He patiently signed our books, our records and our ticket stubs and chatted amiably even though he looked and must have felt very tired after all the shows and travelling he's been doing for the past few months. I asked him if the Kinks were going to tour Australia as a band again and he said he'd like to, so maybe all is not lost yet.

One interesting observation I made is that he came out of the stage door on the second night with the Kollektable Kinks bootleg under his arm - that's the one on the Reprieve label with the demos of I Go To Sleep, Time Will Tell, All Night Stand, etc. Nobody asked him, but I wonder if he'd ever seen it before. It's clear he doesn't mind being seen with a bootleg of his own stuff.

Anyway, for the record, here's the set list of both shows:

  1. Dedicated Follower of Fashion
  2. Sunny Afternoon
  3. Apeman
  4. Autumn Almanac
  5. Victoria
  6. 20th Century Man
  7. London
  8. That Old Black Magic
  9. Tired of Waiting
  10. Set Me Free
  11. See My Friends
  12. X-Ray (for me the core of the whole show - what it seemed to be all about)
  13. Stop Your Sobbing
  14. Art School Babe
  15. You Really Got Me #1 (instrumental) (original concept version - very bluesy, bottleneck guitar from Pete Mathieson during which Ray went off stage to take his jacket off and pour himself a beer!)
  16. You Really Got Me#2 (still with bluesy opening riff and bottle-neck solo)
  17. She Was Really Animal
  18. Cadillac(!) (opening riff and first line)
  19. Smokestack Lightning (!) (instrumental as background to the next part of Ray's story)
  20. You Really Got Me #3 ('proper' version)
  21. A Well Respected Man
  22. Welcome to America (?) (Big Fat Cowboy song)
  23. I Go To Sleep (a really haunting rendition)
  24. Two Sisters (this and 23 being the most perfectly executed songs of the whole set)
  25. The Moneygoround
  26. Lola (intro) followed by one huge WAY-O!
  27. Lola
  28. To The Bone
  29. Village Green
  30. Days (spelt Daze by Pete Quaife)
  31. Waterloo Sunset
  32. You Really Got Me#4
A huge bonus for me (apart from discovering that I wasn't the only Kinks fan in Sydney) was that the guy sitting next to me on the second night lives only a few blocks away in my suburb. He has lots of stuff I haven't and vice versa. We're going to have a fine time together!

Not only that - and here's where you all come in - he taped both shows! I told him that there might be one or two (ahem) people on the 'net interested in copies and he said it's okay to let you know. He's interested in trading of course and particularly keen on getting tapes of really early concerts from the 60s and 70s - the earlier the better. We haven't really discussed the mechanics of getting tapes backwards and forwards yet, but if anybody's interested maybe you could start by sending lists of what you've got and I'll pass them on to him and work it out from there.

Long Live The Kinks!

E-mail Dave Emlen