The Dave Davies Trio ~ 2017 April 13 ~ The Center for the Arts in Natick ~ Natick, MA
Dave Davies, lead vocals, guitar; David Nolte, bass, guitar, keyboard, electronic samples, backing vocals; Dennis Diken, drums, backing vocals; Rebecca Wilson, backing vocals (2 songs)
Open Road - I Need You - She's Got Everything - Creepin' Jean - Tired of Waiting - Susannah's Still Alive - Love Me Till the Sun Shines - See My Friends - Path Is Long - Strangers - Too Much On My Mind - Young & Innocent Days - This Man He Weeps Tonight - I Am Free - Death of a Clown - Dead End Street - Living on a Thin Line - Wicked Annabella - Where Have All the Good Times Gone? - All Day and All Of the Night ... encore ... I'm Not Like Everybody Else - You Really Got Me
It's been almost four years since I have seen Dave Davies in concert. In 2013 when I last saw him perform he was taking the first tentative steps back into doing live shows after suffering a stroke in 2004. At that time, the entire Kinks fan base was so happy that he was well enough to return to the stage that we all cut him a huge amount of slack. The general concensus was that he was looking and sounding great for someone who had literally had a brush with death. But from a strictly musical standpoint, at that time he still had a long way to go before he could approach the quality of the performances of his golden years as a solo performer (1997-2004). In 2013, he struggled on vocals, and as for his guitar playing, he depended on a second guitarist in the band (Jonathan Lea) to help him out.
This time out, things have gotten better for Dave. I am extremely pleased to report that he has made significant further strides toward reclaiming his performing skills. He has chosen this time to "play without a net." Meaning, he has stripped down his band to a three-piece power trio. He has obviously developed enough confidence to eliminate the back-up guitarist, and has taken all the lead guitar work back for himself.
His sense of humor and sense of pacing are just as good as ever. He relied on a few very familiar gags from long ago. Introducing David Nolte (back on bass, to my huge delight), he said: "The name is Nolte, not Naughty." A couple of times he asked for requests, and when people shouted out titles, he said: "Go Home? I don't think I know that one." Tucked in the middle of the evening was a 7-song acoustic set that really hit the spot, including some favorites from the Dave.1 years: "Young & Innocent Days," "This Man He Weeps Tonight," even "I Am Free." He played two songs from his new album, Open Road, written and performed with his son Russ Davies. The new album is more mellow and less rocking than the previous two albums he had recorded in the past half dozen years. I particularly liked "Path Is Long," a nostalgic number that opened the acoustic set. Girlfriend Rebecca Wilson joined the band on stage on backing vocals on two songs, "Death of a Clown" and the "You Really Got Me" second encore.
David Nolte, as noted above, is back on bass and assorted effects. He had a mini keyboard that he used for the "Death of a Clown" intro and a few riffs during "Young and Innocent Days," and utilized a laptop to provide a prerecorded sample for the opening of one or two songs ("See My Friends"). He also played guitar on one or two songs. On drums and backing vocals was Dennis Diken (of The Smithereens), whom I had not seen before in the Dave Davies Band.
Dave's singing and his playing will probably never be what they were, but he has figured out ways around some of his limitations. The song "Strangers" is an example. This song is known for having a wide range of high notes and low notes, some of which are beyond Dave's abilities at this time. So, he reworked the melody, replacing a few notes that are outside of his range now with complementary notes that he can manage. It worked very well, and what a pleasure it was to hear this beautiful ballad, which gets more and more relevant with every passing year, as both singer and audience are moving forward along life's journey.
The venue was sold out, and the crowd, although far from Sit 'n' Bull level enthusiastic, enjoyed the show and showed Dave a lot of appreciation. The band played a good long show, 22 songs, ending with a two-song encore of "INLEE" and "YRGM." Before the show, there was a warmup tape playing consisting of many covers of Kinks songs (including a few written by Dave). This venue is situated in a converted firehouse just one block south of the Boston Marathon course (where a few days later thousands of runners would be making their way from Hopkinton to Boston). The sound was very good, although since I am not a member of the venue, I had to wait for general public tickets to go on sale and wound up in the third row along the side.
I look forward to seeing Dave one more time on this current tour, next Thursday in Derry, NH.
More Dave the Rave
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