Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ray Davies and the Three Faces of Jimmy Fallon




I had no doubt as I approached the Beacon Theater tonight that Ray Davies would deliver an excellent show. As leader of The Kinks with his brother Dave, he was the the master showman of rock and roll in the 70s and 80s. Armed with a massive stack of great songs and with Dave's crunching guitar and sympathetic support vocals, they were the one band from the British invasion an American rock fan could really latch on to in those days.

So all this was on my mind as I watched the man wake up an aged crowd (see photo outside the venue -- 75% male, 45+) with some hits ("I'm Not Like Everybody Else") to start the set. He settled into some new material, but always with intros showing his great rapport. By the end the whole place was on its feet w/Davies walking us through his encores including "Lola," and a sweet version of "Waterloo Sunset," which I captured on video:

video

Some guy in back of me was talking at full voice with his friends during the quiet parts and wouldn't shut up even though I kept turning around and giving the peeved vibe. A few times later I realized it was that dude Jimmy Fallon from TV. The funny part is he thought I was looking at him because he's on tv and not because he was being a disruptive bastard. At the end I was so happy I didn't care about anything including Jimmy. Those are the three faces - annoyed, embarrassed, uninterested. By the way, Fallon's favorite song seemed to be "Come Dancing."

So the music was pretty great but I'm sure I'm not the only one who missed Dave Davies. The kid on guitar was competent but early in the show, I told my buddy Randy Dry from Sirius and PolyGram that his distortion sounded like it came from Guitar Center and not from throwing the amp down the stairs or cutting the speaker cone like Dave's did.

When they played "You Really Got Me," my fears were confirmed. The kid played it like Eddie Van Halen. Can't blame him, he probably heard that version more times than the great Dave. Ray told a story about writing the song as a blues and speeding it up in the studio w/his brother, then 16, creating rock history with his distorted sound. Ray said someone thought the guitar sounded like a barking dog on that song.

It wasn't perfect but it's about as good a show as you could expect from a guy with Ray Davies' history with a need to play new material ("I'm a songwriter, that's what I do," he explained. Can't argue with that. He can still turn it out with humor, intelligence and a nice rhyme or two as well.

Highly recommended!

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