The Kinks were the odd men out in the British Invasion of the 1960s, overshadowed by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. Sure, The Kinks had their fair share of hit singles, but they’re rarely thought to be in the same class as the Big 3.
That’s a shame, really, because Ray Davies is every bit the songwriter as Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Pete Townshend or the Jagger-Richards combo.
Davies’ musical genius was on full display Thursday night at the Webster Theater in Hartford as he performed an intimate show accompanied by guitarist Bill Shanley. It wasn’t an “unplugged” performance, as Shanley often used an electric guitar, and it wasn’t one of Davies’ Storyteller shows, where he talks about his life and career.
It was just a revered singer-songwriter giving stripped-down renditions of his songs – the hits, the newer tunes and some more obscure songs from The Kinks days. In an interview for the story that ran in the March 4 papers, Davies had said he wanted to “re-connect” with his songs and that’s what he did.
The show was fantastic, often breaking out in full-out sing-along sessions on The Kinks’ biggest hits. For the Kinks fanatics, there were a few oddities thrown in that Davies probably hasn’t played in concert in decades.
Personal highlights were “Where Have All the Good Times Gone,” “Victoria,” “The Hard Way” and “See My Friends.” Songs I wished he played, but didn’t, include “Days,” “Celluloid Heroes” and “Village Green Preservation Society.”
The show’s encore was near perfect, as The 88, the opening act on the tour, joined Davies and Shanley for four songs of supercharged Kinks classics … or would that be Klassics.
Hearing Davies sink his teeth into “You Really Got Me,” followed by “Lola” was spine-tingling.
Having checked set lists from previous tour stops, I pretty much knew what to expect Thursday, so it was a nice surprise when Davies and crew performed “David Watts,” which wasn’t on any of the lists I read.
The night ended with “Low Budget,” which is as fitting a song as ever in these economic times, the true sign of a great songwriter.
The set list
This is Where I Belong/You Really Got Me/I Need You/Where Have All the Good Times Gone/ Till the End of the Day/In a Moment/Victoria/20th Century Man/Autumn Almanac/Misfits/The Tourist/Apeman/Two Sisters/The Hard Way/See My Friends/I’m Not Like Everybody Else/Nothing in This World/Too Much on My Mind/Well Respected Man/Sunny Afternoon/Postcards from London/Tired of Waiting for You/All Day and All of the Night
Encore: Your Really Got Me/Lola/David Watts/Low Budget