Raznor's Rants

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Concerning the Ray Davies Concert the Bekka and I attended July 16 at the Wiltern Theater

Posted by Ross

Playing for a standing room-only crowd on the ground floor, Ray was lively, energetic, and looking considerably less harsh and bald than recent photos have indicated. He came on stage with a green guitar, white sneakers and a pair of skin-tight, scrote-squeezing jeans, opening with that great identity anthem, "I'm Not Like Everybody Else."

I love the Kinks. They were maybe a year behind the Beatles, and if they weren't as good as the Fab Four, they were close. I would even go as far as to say, if any band could have been the Beatles, it was the Kinks. And I wouldn't say this of the Stones or the Who (The Beach Boys are excluded because they're not British). Plus, the Kinks' catalogue dwarfs that of the Beatles.

Ray's new album is tremendous. Interestingly enough, though, he didn't perform three of my favorite songs on that album, the title track "Other People's Lives," "Stand-up Comic" and "Life After Breakfast."

Being stoned out of my gourd (as per usual concert-going protocol) I was filled with all kinds of dark thoughts when Ray played "20th Century Man," the opening track from the Kinks' masterful 1971 album Muswell Hillbillies.

How could even a stone-cold sober person not be filled with dark thoughts when this is the song's first stanza:

This is the age of machinery,
A mechanical nightmare,
The wonderful world of technology,
Napalm hydrogen bombs biological warfare

And clearly, I was not alone in these forboding revolutions of the subconscious, as, when the song came to a close, the bald middle-aged gentleman in front of me raised both hands high in the air, exposing sweat-stained pits as he flashed "double-devils."

At least from my place two-thirds of the way toward the back of the balcony, it was hot and stuffy at the Wiltern, wafts from the wheezing A.C. drifting our way with dissatisyfing infrequency. The sound, also, was fuzzy and distorted at times. I'm not sure why this was, as I've been to other Wiltern shows where the sound was amazing. I had probably the worst seat in the theater when Dylan was there, and I was certain I was hearing the most beautiful music being played on planet earth.

I went slack-jawed when Ray played the opening strands of the sweet, but somewhat goofy, "Celluloid Heroes." Don't get me wrong, I love that song, and considering it's an appropriate one for a Hollywood audience, maybe I shouldn't have been too surprised to hear it. He played a truncated version, ending it with Greta Garbo, who "Turned her back on stardom, because she vanted to be alone." He didn't make it to the lyric that always moves me: "Stand close by Bette Davis, because hers was such a lonely life."

Despite the uncomfortable temperature, sometimes shaky acoustics and having our water bottle confiscated by security on the way in (can you say cotton mouth?), the concert was a whole lotta fun. Davies insists upon his audience singing along as much as possible and will, from time to time, completely stop the music on stage and make the audience carry the tune. I like to sing along at concerts, but sometimes feel self-conscious, so I appreciate getting a prompting from the big man on stage.

The night's playlist:

1) I'm Not Like Everybody Else
2) Where Have All the Good Times Gone
3) After the Fall
4) All She Wrote
5) 20th Century Man
6) Next Door Neighbor
7) Creatures of Little Faith
8) Over My Head

while the band took a break, Ray did three acapella requests, singing a round or two of the choruses of:
9) Victoria
10) Sleepwalker
11) A Gallon of Gas

12) Harry Rag
13) Dead End Street
14) Sunny Afternoon
15) Things Are Gonna Change (The Morning After)
16) Til the End of the Day
17) Celluloid Heroes
18) Oklahoma U.S.A.
19) The Tourist
20) All Day and All of the Night

Encore 1:
21) A Long Way From Home
22) The Getaway (Lonesome Train)
23) Tired of Waiting For You
24) Set Me Free
25) You Really Got Me

Encore 2:
26) Low Budget


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