Ray Davies - Bridgewater Hall

Often overlooked in favour of Lennon or Jagger when it comes to listing the musical geniuses that changed the face of modern music, Ray Davies influence spans to Damon Albarn's entire musical output, even Gorillaz's "Feel Good Inc" acoustic flourishes bear more than a passing resemblance to the Kinks "Sunny Afternoon". Without Blur and the plethora of bands were influenced by Davies in the Britpop era there would be no Kaiser Chiefs, but it isn't just Britpop that Davies influenced. Listen to "You Really Got Me" and then listen to Nirvana or any rock band - the ability to deliver sugar sweet melodies and buzzsaw guitars in rock music owes a debt to this record.

The story behind the music is equally appealing. The sibling rivalry between Ray and Dave Davies still exists to this day with Ray quipping "I'm Ray, just in-case you thought I was the other one" (the other one notably cancelled his Academy 3 show just over a month with rumours of poor ticket sales). More recently a mugger in New Orleans shot him while he was house hunting. It all makes for an utterly compelling tale that reads as interesting as his lyrics

"Are there any individuals in the room?" he asks as he launches into a blues rock track which starts off with a simple White Stripes-esque guitar and drums affair before exploding when the rest of the band join in one stage.

Tonight is as much about the new songs as it is about the old classic, it's worth noting that despite touring solo for many years on his Storyteller Tour this is his first full band tour in well over a decade. "After The Fall", a song written and recorded four years ago but released on his new album next February, has allusions to the war and moving on to a better place. "Next Door Neighbour" is a more traditional character based tale that musically is a close relative to "Sunday Afternoon". "Thanksgiving Day" dispels the myth that Davies only writes songs about England, it's a song about an old grandfather in New England and although musically it's more blues based, it features the usual school of Ray Davies narratives.

"It's good to be back in Manchester, home of my favourite football teams...Altrincham. I'm a bit mixed up tonight; my head is still in Altrincham. Are they in the premier league now?" he asks much to the bemusement of the plethora of City and United fans in the.

The cult classic "Village Green Preservation Society" album is given a welcome airing to coincide with its recent re-mastering and re-release. The albums title track, "Picture Book" (recently used on the advert for HP) and "Johnny Thunders" are all given the semi-acoustic treatment

It's the aforementioned "Sunny Afternoon" which kickstarts a series of the Kinks biggest hits including "Dead End Street", "Days", "Lola" "Tired Of Waiting For You", "You Really Got Me" and "Waterloo Sunset".

Ray Davies delivered something for everyone at the Bridgewater Hall, from obscure tracks to the classics and a clear indication with his new material that he's still one of the UK's best songwriters. Next month the Kinks get inducted into the UK's Music Hall Of Fame and about time to, the music scene would be very different now if it wasn't for Ray Davies!!!

Alex McCann

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