Red River 2015
Relaxed but rugged, the Punk Kink gets down on City Winery to challenge time and channel his prime.
Dave Davies may have fully recovered after the stroke that almost claimed his life in 2004, yet there’s still an air of sensation and poignancy to the short tour forays the veteran makes once in a while. Another residue of that is an occasional slur in singing, although this only adds a touch of bohemian nihilism which always was a part of Davies’ delivery, a trait so fitting for the NYC venue Dave chose to record his first post-illness stage album in. Of course, the concert closes with a brace of cuts bearing his most famous riffs – “All Day And All Of The Night” and “You Really Got Me” – but the two nights in Big Apple didn’t display the obvious choices from the past.
Perfectly logical, Davis starts the show with the title track of his latest studio effort, "Rippin' Up Time", and underscores its jagged defiance with his former band’s statement of “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” – shortened to its opening stanzas and hung on a heavy guitar wail now. Dave’s discontent of relying on erstwhile glories seeps out from an elegant new tune, “King Of Karaoke,” while he tracks down the punk roots to THE KINKS’ “I Need You” to give it a neanderthal groove, and uncovers one more B-side, from a solo single, the slider-rolling “Creepin’ Jean,” where his current group flaunt their harmonies. Reminding the crowd it was him who wrote such classics as “Death Of A Clown” and “Suzannah’s Still Alive” that sound quite belligerent here, Davies also dives into rarer material for “Livin’ On A Thin Line” and the acoustic “Strangers” – both nostalgic and entrancing.
An alternative view of the gems goes awry a bit when “See My Friends” gets too much of a plaintive, if psyched-up, makeover, unlike “Flowers In The Rain” off Dave’s “Bug” which wraps loneliness in a soft reverie that, from a man nearing 70, is much more moving than “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” with its slightly tired exuberance. Yet Davies crystallizes the old hope in the freshness of “Front Room” and the whole show is basically it, the artist’s front room for guests to feel at home, as does their host who rips it up to see more music on the horizon.