On a damp evening at City Winery in New York, a cheerful crowd gathered for the second of three shows featuring Dave Davies of the Kinks. Not having toured in ten years after suffering a stroke, the Kinks’ lead guitarist delighted American Kinks fans by setting up a surprising string of shows across the country, starting in New York City. Expectations were mixed; fans praised the show after Davies’ first performance at the cozy New York hotspot, but would super fans be anything but a little biased concerning one of their music idols?
Kinks fans have good reason to praise Davies for his show. The majority of the set consisted of the quintessential hits produced by the London-based band from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Many songs were staples of Davies’, such as the worldly “Strangers,” the anthem-like “Living On A Thin Line,” and his jingly “Death of a Clown,” to which the audience gladly joined in singing. Most of the tunes Davies performed were penned by his other brother Ray, including “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” “I Need You,” and rather delightfully “Young and Innocent Days,” which he dedicated to his older sibling. Contrary to much of the media-fueled discord between the Kinks’ lead-siblings, Davies commented during the show that he does love his brother (“Most of the time,” he jested) and he jokingly introduced “Death of a Clown” as having been written by himself and a family member “who must not be named.” Some die-hards may have been concerned that Davies chose too many songs by his brother and not enough of his own, which were few and far in between in the Kinks’ discography, but it was Davies’ blaring, raw guitar work that pulled complemented his brothers’ lyrics and made the songs hits then and now.
That said, Dave Davies held his own with some brand new material. I Will Be Me — on sale now — is Davies’ latest solo effort and some of the tracks are incorporated into Davies’ touring set. “Little Green Amp” is a raucous punk jam with nods to the history of the Kinks and the innovation of the band’s most recognizable Dave-riff in “You Really Got Me.” “The Healing Boy,” and “Cote du Rhone (I Will Be Me)” remind us of Davies’ spiritual roots and the motifs he constantly recycles in his career: spiritual connections, positivity, optimism, and healing.
Davies is joined on his tour by solid and talented musicians, members of The Jigsaw Seen, featuring guitarist Jonathan Lea, bassist/keyboardist Tom Currier, and drummer Teddy Freese. The band, who also appear on a few tracks off the new album, drive Davies to strive for the limelight, which had so often overlooked him before his solo career.
If you’re looking for a perfectly put together show, of course, this tour might not be for you. Davies’ guitar playing is still as energetic and skilled as ever, but the effects of his stroke a decade ago are marked in his performance. At times he struggles to recall lyrics or you find that his singing is half a beat behind the music, but he soldiers on and proves that he is well on the road to recovery. And other than the slight hiccups in his understandably rusty routine, the audience must also contend with the mega-fans, dedicated followers of the Kinks who can be a little rowdy as they shout out requests, hoping for some cheerful banter with Davies, to which he will oblige often. And if you’re prepared to indulge some female reliving their carefree youth by screaming lustfully for the famed guitarist and former heartthrob of the Kinks (rightfully so), then you’re ready for Davies’ tour.
Photos by Paul Undersinger.