Dave Davies Shows His Stuff

By Jim Sullivan

Boston Globe - February 5, 1999

- "Baby, I feel good!" scream-sang the high-pitched Dave Davies at the onset of Wednesday night's gig. It's the opening line of "Till the End of the Day," and you can think of it as the Kinks' version of James Brown's "I Feel Good," a declaration of hope and purpose. Midway through the set, though, came a nugget from the mid-1960s, "Picture Book." It's a jaunty pop song with an undertone of melancholia for a past that can't be recaptured, the picture book revealing "pictures of each other to prove we loved each other a long time ago." There's the Kinks for you in a nutshell: seizing life, wistful about its passage.

Of course, Davies wasn't playing with the Kinks, a band on semipermanent hiatus. He was fronting his own group of young Turks, dubbed Kink Kronikles, and he was giving the Kinks catalog of songs written by his brother Ray, as well as some of his own material, a thorough, fresh workout.

Davies is nowhere near the showman his brother is, but he is making the most of Ray's extended leave, assuming the front-and-center lead singing roll he's never had in the Kinks, and picking not just hits but delightful obscurities ("Susannah's Still Alive," "Picture Book," "I'm Not Like Everybody Else"). In the Kinks, Davies's solo spots are often screaming rockers; here, he was able to give equal space to rockers ("Wicked Annabella"), blues rave-ups ("Milkcow Blues"), and more sensitive, softer material ("Strangers").

Davies had an added reason to feel good Wednesday: It was his 52nd birthday (his publicist gave us the wrong age the other day). He and his backing trio tossed a delightful 100-minute concert at the Middle East Downstairs, and in return he received a round of "Happy Birthday," at least three cakes, and a bouquet of flowers. Local musicians (Mick Maldonado, Jeff Conolly, Chandler Travis, Barry Marshall) came to salute him, as did at least one cake-bearing former paramour.

"I didn't think anybody knew," Davies said, sheep ishly, when presented with two cakes. "God bless you." There was a grass-roots warmth and genuineness about the gesture and response. When Davies spread his hands wide during "See My Friends," to embrace the crowd, it had a similar feeling. This was not a rock star on a pedestal; this was shared camaraderie.

Davies's approach to fronting a group had its own aw-shucks appeal. "I've finally got a US album out," he said, "Unfinished Kronikles," uh, "Business." (Full title: "Unfinished Business: Kink Kronikles 63/98," a mix of Kinks tunes, new solo tunes, and reworked Kinks songs). He also joked about reading from his autobiography, ''Kink'' - a poke at his brother, who reads and sings during his show.

During the homestretch Davies sang the new "Fortis Green," a melancholic song about the old days; his 1968 celebratory tear-jerker hit, "Death of a Clown" (with audience sing-along); "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," a Kinks fan's defiant motto; "Livin' on a Thin Line," about how we muddy history; and the derigueurguitar blowouts "All Day and All of the Night" and "You Really Got Me." Bonus encore: "Father Christmas," a punk-fueled screamer the Kinks rarely played live. It's about a gang of impoverished ruffians who beat up Santa Claus. It's also an angry anticapitalist/consumerism song, where the kids sneer at Santa: "Give all your toys/To the little rich boys." Nice bite, sharp edge.

Davies plays the Sit 'n Bull Pub in Maynard tonight and tomorrow night.

By Jim Sullivan - Boston Globe, February 5, 1999

This story ran on page D17 of the Boston Globe on 02/05/99.

© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

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