Review - Ray Solo, 8 December 1995, Melbourne, Australia

Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 00:35:12 +1100
Subject: RAY DAVIES, Athanaeum Theatre, Melbourne, Australia, Dec.8,'95

Old Victorian theater in the heart of old Melbourne (popn:3 million), seats about a thousand on three levels: all seats give reasonably close view. Show started at 8.30 and went non-stop til well after 10.30pm. Audience in the foyer enjoyed a cheap bar and ran the full range from age 18-60.

RD started with some favourites from the 60s and had everyone in a singalong which is admittedly a bit naff (kitsch) but his playing was brilliant - 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion', 'Sunny Afternoon' and one other. Kinks last played here very early 1982 (a two-show stand which was one of the best things I've ever seen) - at the height of their third US resurgence - so perhaps RD needed to find his feet here again. Still, when the 'X-Ray' show proper started it was absolutely memorable. I've read many of your inhouse reviews from the US and UK shows but this was quite exceptional. In particularly he really got down to business with a very moody and bluesy '20th Century Man' and this set the mood for the readings from X-Ray and the off the cuff anecdotes- his impressions of 'Robert and Grenville' being particularly hilarious. So what was specifically good compared to what I've already read on your excellent tour reviews? Two days later and my memory is already fading BUT!!! the following remain:

1. The original songs written (presumably, according to your previous reviews) for this show, in particular 'London Town'(?) a real gem and later on the US 'Land of the Free, Home of the Brave' rave and 'To the Bone'(?) and some others. I've always reckoned on a few RD pearlers (local coloquialism for highlights) each album but these originals were stunning - hope that solo album emerges.

2. RD got into a predictable tangle - given my reading of X-Ray - with the gay aspects of the book. 'Lola' is, of course wonderfully ambiguous, but it was somewhat different when Ray was trying to explain the 'fag' line from 'Well Respected Man'. "What do you call them here?", said RD, somewhat insensitively. Several homophobic replies ensued - usual abuse - to which RD replied, "That that's what everybody called me over the years". A nice retort thankfully and the show went on although I was less that impressed with those audience members.

3. Particular renditions of songs were just brilliant given I already knew them so well - this is always a test of a great performer when the cliched version of a well-known track can be sold to the converted- 'See My Friends', 'Days'(Pete Quaife's 'Daze') and 'Waterloo Sunset' just hit me between the eyes, a sort of deja vu when you cannot believe that you're actually there witnessing such incredible renditions of songs. I hope it was taped or a bootlegger was there!.

4. He acknowledges everyone: Big Bill Broonzy, Chet Atkins, Charlie Christian, James? Burton, Dave Davies and Hank Williams 4. The sheer theatricality and energy of the 'old goat': his vitality knew no bounds! This tour is many months, and continents, old but he seemed so fresh and eager. RD is a real 'ham' vaudeville actor (among everything else) and I know his acting potential from the 70s concept albums but he just exuded so much charm and character - a beacon of light in a darkness of hype - we felt totally uplifted a the conclusion.

5. RD played the next night here in Melbourne (which I missed) and then onto New Zealand as I understand. Last Saturday, Dec.1., he played a national TV show here ('Hey, Hey it's Saturday', no interview) and did a live version of YRGM with the inhouse band, who are very good, with his sidekick Pete? Mathison. Song done well but, as usual, the host of the programe was not up to the significance of his guest and RD played it very low key (and cool!). Sections of local media here quite good and RD got good coverage in quality press (as he fucking should!). Still I can't help feeling that most of my audience were there for nostalgia so it was particularly good to hear Ray mention new bands, specifically Blur and Oasis, to which some of the audience yelled approval and that was fantastic. So, check the past but always keep a pulse on what's going down NOW. Check y'all and keep the faith!!! Any correspondence please let me know that you're out there!
E-mail Dave Emlen