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Ray Davies

a popular man about town?

Written By Rachael Kamara

With a full auditorium it certainly seemed that way when The Kinks front man performed at The De La Warr Pavilion last month.

Walking on stage to an enormous cheer from the crowd, Davies opened by saying “Sunday night in Bexhill, I’ve waited my whole life for this moment”. One of many jokes he made throughout the evening, despite the laughter it turned out that the Americana Tour was a sad story told through a series of readings, videos, and songs. The music was stripped back to an intimate acoustic affair, no big stage productions, no gimmicks, just a few instruments placed next to some stools. Davies was accompanied on stage by Bill Shandy, and to the joy of the audience opened with three of The Kinks biggest hits, before taking us on a journey through his time with The Kinks, and his solo tour looking to ‘break’ America.

Davies explained that he had always seen America as some kind of Golden Land, where dreams come true. But as the night unfolded, his story turned to one of sadness, not glory. Looking around at the audience some were happy, fascinated and listening eagerly, whilst others appeared perplexed, especially when Davies left the stage during the film segments.

Stories about his experience in the USA seemed to suggest that Davies no longer felt that America was the land of dreams. After touring there days after 9/11, and then being shot in New Orleans three years later, he now seemed to portray it as a place of gun crime, propaganda, and capitalism.

Video footage also showed him on tour in America, as the world of music was changing. The politics of it all were literally an obstruction on the road, it was interesting to watch, but sadly the video was longer than the short time he spent on stage.

Despite the clearly negative impact America had had on Davies, its influence was obvious when it came to his music. This was very evident in the country and blues sound of the melodies and vocals of his newer material, in this brief part of the performance.

Playing out with Lola, before returning for an encore which of course concluded with ‘Waterloo Sunset, and ‘You Really Got Me’, the front of the stage became scattered with fans dancing to the live performance by this Rock legend.

Ray Davies did not disappoint. As a massive fan of The Kinks, it was an opportunity I will treasure. I grew up listening to The Kinks with my mum, who has been central to my musical influences. So, of course, she was right there with me. 

After the gig I asked, ‘Well, was that worth waiting 66 years for?” Her reply, “Hell Yes”.

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