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Saturday, November 5, 2011

In Which Ray Davies Lands In The Burgh

Okay, so the one regret I have from our virginal voyage to SXSW last winter (has it been over a year already?) is that we didn't head on back to La Zona Rosa to catch the bulk of Ray Davies' set after dumping out of Stone Temple Pilots early.

Kings of the Brit Pop
Last night that wrong was righted in exemplary fashion on an architecturally elegant library stage east of center city. Pittsburgh may not be as romantic as a Waterloo Sunset, but the love was certainly flowing unconditionally last night for legendary Brit, Ray Davies.

After dining on some very tasty vegetarian fare served to us by a braided, hippy-type lass with road-kill breath and an irksome, high-pitched, helium voice, while being serenaded by a fashionably-challenged, tattooed Reubenesque jazz singer with the odd moniker of Phat Man Dee and her crooning paramour, my SX buddy, Betty and I ventured the four blocks to the historic landmark.

It was a big couple of days in the Burgh. Bruce Springsteen was playing back-to-back concerts across the river in Oakland with local rocker, Joe Grushecky. Rumors were circling in the Will Call line that Mr. Davies was planning to high-tail it after the show to take the stage with the Boss and company. It didn't happen, of course, but boy that would have been something. But honestly, this Honey Badger didn't give a shit that Ray called it a night, being as I had neither a ticket nor any inclination to crash that party. We were having quite the party of our own in Homestead.

Hipster Doofus to the right
Once we downed our customary libation amongst the annuls of "oral tradition", it was time to take our place amidst the near-capacity crowd.

file this on the shelf of Yum
 Dressed in a dapper, fitted black jacket and skinny jeans that may or may not have been originals stored in his cedar chest from his Kinks genesis in the 60s, this Dedicated Follower of Fashion took the stage with an Irish guitar accompanist in tow. The only deviation from his past hipster persona were the sensible sneakers he now sported in place of his trademark Beatle boots.

He performed eight new and old numbers acoustically, including the classics Sunny Afternoon and Waterloo Sunset, coaxing the audience to sing and clap along from the get-go.

(I got busted by the photo Nazi while taping the start of Waterloo Sunset, hence the lack of videos. Whatev. It was a grand night of popular rifts.)

Then the band joined in and things got jumping with a full-on rocker version of 20th Century Man. Davies dished out the hits one after another to the crowd's delight: Dedicated Follower, Hollywood Boulevard, Ape Man, a bluesy start to You Really Got Me before cutting loose with a trademark power pop rendition, stopping occasionally to dance like the delightfully awkward white guy he is and punctuating several songs with a rock star jump. He got some pretty sweet air, too. And he wasn't even winded. Not bad for a 67 year old pioneer of Brit Pop.

The evening came to a close with a very spirited Lola and All Day and All of the Night that had all of us middle-agers on our feet dancing and singing. With the last note still hanging in the air, he made his way down across the front row shaking hands, signing autographs and genuinely looking like he had as much fun as we did.

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