On Sunday, after the bizarre experience of PARADISE FOUND at the Menier, it was time to escape the blazing heat of London for the cooler interior of the Albert Hall to see the Storyteller himself, Ray Davies.We had seats in the oval stalls section towards the back of the hall and as usual had to filter out what he was singing - and more worryingly, saying - through the ever-muddy RAH sound.
Ray was in good form and, as at Hammersmith last year, the first part of his set was acoustic and he was accompanied by fellow-guitarist Bill Shanley. He worked his way through a wide selection of Kinks hits and b-sides as well as his own material - and yes, when he played WATERLOO SUNSET, the song worked it's magic on me as usual and had an excess of moisture in the ol' tear ducts.
I must break off here and say that as good as he was, I preferred him at Hammersmith last year. The more I go to RAH there is always a reason not to have an enjoyable experience. This time my attention was constantly being drawn to the sadly noticeable areas of empty seating - and also to the people who seemed to get up after only about 15 minutes and leave! Like, why? Was it not the Ray Davies that you were expecting?? We had about 12 empty seats behind us and about 3 blocks of 5 empty seats in front of us. Now the reason that I was eyeing these seats a lot was because, again as usual, we had the Mad Sod magnet on again and two seats down the row from me was a fairly inebriated blonde woman who probably bought the first ever single by The Kinks if you know what I mean.
She was determined to have a good time so was the only one standing and swaying in an uncertain dance, clapping along like a one-person ice-skating audience and generally pulling the focus away from the stage as I had to look her way to see the stage.
Ray was joined by his band for the second section of the show and played, possibly to the show's detriment. mainly his solo material. He ended the show with a couple of fine encores including DAYS and LOLA - how glorious to have a song about a tranny so rousingly belted out by what I guess was a predominantly straight audience! I'm afraid that another reason why the show isn't sticking in my mind as well as it should is because I had a nightmare getting back home thanks to BR and London Transport not running any trains north of Wood Green up to Enfield. I left Owen at 10:55pm at South Kensington station - and walked through my door at 1:10am - and that was only due to Owen's quick thinking of calling me an Addison Lee cab when I was stranded in Alexandra Palace.
It is a universally-acknowledged fact that no matter how good the evening you have had, a bad journey home will be all you remember.
I would like to see Ray again... but please mate, a smaller venue?