Dave Davies: A Birthday Bash

By Brett Milano

Boston Phoenix - February 12 1999

Guitarist Dave Davies invariably gets referred to as the George Harrison of the Kinks - fair enough because he's the young one, the less prolific song writer, and the one who got religion (though instead of following George to India, he went straight on to outer space). But Dave's solo-band show at the Middle East last week proved where he really stands in the Kinks: he's the noisy one, the riff slinger, the one who embodies the punkier side of the band's identity. In other words, he's not their George, he's their Keith.

With the downstairs room about half full, the show was something of a Kinks love fest. It was Dave's 52nd birthday, and the set was stopped at two different points for cakes - one from the band, the other from fans up front. You could tell it was a hardcore crowd when some of the loudest applause went to the opening notes of "There's No Life Without Your Love" - an obscure track from an obscure album (1973's The Great Lost Kinks Album) that's been out of print for two decades.

In exchange for Ray Davies' not being there, you got to hear a more ideal set list than the Kinks ever played. There were two songs from their best early album, The Village Green Preservation Society (including the proto-metal "Wicked Annabella"), plus a smart selection of recent stuff and the Dave-written songs that the band never touch, including "Strangers", an acoustic number that can go head-on with Ray's most heartrending ballads. For that matter, Ray's single most heartrending ballad, "See My Friends," was done up earli er in the set.

Last week's show featured more new material than last spring's club dates - which was a mixed blessing. "Fortis Green" was charming and ultra-English (think of "Penny Lane" crossed with the Kinks' "Village Green"); a few fans seemed to think Dave was kidding when he announced it as an excerpt from a spiritual/extraterrestrial rock opera he's writing - until he proceeded to play it. Still, most of the set concentrated on the crunchy, melodic rock ers that Dave does best. And his L.A. rhythm section showed a better feel for the vintage material than the hired hands in the latter-day Kinks. The closing "You Really Got Me" didn't sound like a pale echo of past glories. It just sounded like "You Really Got Me."

By Brett Milano, Boston Phoenix - February 12 1999

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