Ray Davies & The Vox Society Choir Perform The Kinks Choral Collection @ Orpheum Theater, November 14, 2009


PHOTO By Sung. Full gallery of Ray acoustic here.

Ray Davies returned to L.A. to debut his latest release “The Kinks Choral Collection” at capacity filled Orpheum Theater. Backed by a 28-voice choir and a four-piece band the former Kinks’ lead singer performed a mixture of songs from both his solo catalog and Kinks’ classics in a rousing two hour set. Davies started off the show intimately with an acoustic set accompanied by his guitarist Bill Shanley. The two played for much of the first half of the show with Davies interacting with the crowd frequently. The audience responded in turn, singing along to tunes such as “A Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and “Sunny Afternoon”, and with frequent cries between songs for their favorite songs, at which Davies finally remarked, “[What] an embarrassment of riches.” He was right as he and his ensemble would perform most of the requests as the night went on.

About forty minutes into the show the rest of the band joined, which included former Kinks keyboardist Ian Gibbons. Together they performed additional Kinks material from the earlier “Til the End of the Day” and “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” to the 80’s hit “Come Dancing”. After a twenty minute intermission the choir slowly made their way on stage. Davies announced that they would start with songs from the album Arthur. The choir contributed beautifully to the songs “Shangri-La” and “Victoria”. He then introduced “You Really Got Me” by saying, “If you don’t know this next song you shouldn’t be here.” During the song, Ray danced around the stage, even leaping into the air with his guitar at one point, showing that, even at 65, he still knows how to rock the room.

The performance then shifted to material from Village Green Preservation Society or, as Davies described, “one of the biggest flops ever.” The album may have not sold well during its initial release but it remains some of the most treasured in the band’s history. For the touching reflective song “Do You Remember Walter,” Gibbons switched to the accordion and the overall performance of the whole ensemble and its connection with the audience went up another level. This was followed up with immediately with “Johnny Thunder,” another signature song from the album. It is a pleasant surprise how much of Village Green Preservation Society is on the new album.

The highlight of the evening, and perhaps of the year for me, was “Waterloo Sunset”. Going back to the original you can hear hints that maybe Davies had intended to have some choir-type backing. For this live performance the additional voices lent just the right ingredient to the much loved classic. The night ended with Ray and the band doing an encore of “Low Budget”. Davies grinned brightly, shook hands with those in front, and addressed the crowd one last time saying, “When I go, the game’s up, there will never be another. So enjoy it.”