Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Ray Davies at the Fairfield Halls

Last week I travelled to the internationally glamorous Fairfield Halls in Croydon to see Mr Ray Davies (yes, the bloke who got out of the taxi to sing 'Waterloo Sunset' at the Olympics Closing Ceremony). He reminded us that he'd gone to the technical college in Croydon in the early 60s that used to be opposite the venue.

I've seen Ray a few times - with his band and with the choir - and never been able to take a good photo of him and it was the same in Croydon. His show generally follows the same same format with an acoustic set followed by a break, a change of shirts and the full band coming on to rock out. On Wednesday, this happened during 'Dead End Street', with the song gradually becoming more electric as it progressed. The good thing is that although the show follows the same format, the songs change. He's got so many to choose from after all.

We had all the '60s classics of 'Dedicated Follower Of Fashion', 'Autumn Almanac' and 'Sunny Afternoon', Ray's hits with The Kinks. His tales of England (and London in particular) that he just can't help but sing about. He's a London boy after all. There were no 'Village Green' songs but we were gifted with an electric version of 'Apeman' that I bought back in 1971 and the environmental message is just as relevant today.

Every now and then he'd coax us into singing and clapping along, even though he can't clap in time and he dances like your dad. But he's Ray Davies and things like that don't matter, they just make me smile that he's having a whale of a time up there on the stage. He was clearly energised in the last third or so of the show when people started congregating at the front of the stage, dancing and singing along - his people - including some young people, not just the middle aged and older fans.

My favourite songs included 'I'm Not Like Everyone Else', 'See My Friends', 'Tired Of Waiting For You', 'This Is Where I Belong' and a massive sing-along 'Victoria'. I sang along quietly to 'Days' with a tear in my eye (and hoped he'd mention Kirsty MacColl who had a hit with the song in the '80s and was from Croydon, but he didn't) and to the exceptional 'Waterloo Sunset'.

But it was 'Lola' that got me to my feet and singing along, his final encore song. There's something about his tale of passion in a sleazy Soho club with a tranny that people have fallen in love with and it's great to hear the middle aged middle class audience sing their love for Lola. Everyone was on their feet and singing along as he took us through his tale of a lost Soho. And then he was gone to hand his guitar to the roadie and wandered across the front of the stage shaking hands with adoring fans as the lights went on and we all started leaving.

It's always a pleasure to see Mr Davies and guess at which songs he might play. I don't think he played any songs from his solo albums (he has every other time I've seen him) but focused on his Kinks years (not just the hits). He also mentioned there'd be a new album of 'private songs' in 2013 and called 'Waterloo Sunset' one of his 'private songs' even though it was a huge hit. Let's see what 2013 brings, shall we?

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