So I schlepped over to New Jersey last night to see Ray Davies at the Wellmont Theater (seriously, fucking Jersey, we got so lost, coming and going).
Ray Davies is 65 years old. Ray Davies can still sing. Ray Davies can still dance. Ray Davies can still rock. Ray Davies’ diehard Jersey fans, however, cannot do any of these things. But that’s ok. Though it took awhile for me to adjust to being by far the youngest person in the theater (with the exception of a few teenage daughters and sons), and while it was cringe-inducing to see Davies exhorting an entire room of suburban seniors to sing along to “I’m Not Like Everyone Else,” the enduring quality of the songs he’s written, along with his bottomless well of charisma, made everything ok.
Unlike the two recent New York shows, Davies was without the big backing choir, and he started the set with just himself and his lead guitarist, Bill Shanley, doing pared-down acoustic versions of classics like “Waterloo Sunset” and “Dedicated Follower of Fashion.” Davies sounded great, and did justice to truly great songs, but there was a bit too much emphasis on trying to get the audience “to be my backing choir tonight,” which, meh. (Especially as this entailed the light tech turning up the house lights at each singalong opportunity, nearly blinding half the audience; I felt like I was being indoctrinated into some kind of senior suburban army.)
Davies was joined for the second half of the show by a full backing band, and he took full advantage, rocking the shit out of tunes like “20th Century Man” and “Celluloid Heroes”; but the real showstopper, not surprisingly, I guess, was the enormous version of “You Really Got Me.” It actually gave me a wee bit of the shivers to hear one of the top five iconic ROCK songs performed by the dude who wrote it.
I’m pretty sure there are a lot of sore backs/shoulders/necks/elbows today in the Jersey suburbs, as the crowd was on its feet for the last half-dozen songs of the show, including interminable singalong encore, “Lola.” But hell, I don’t mean to sound like a dick, everyone had a good time and Ray Davies is awesome. The end.