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Getting the 'Bug' and Kinks Out

Dave Davies in concert, Feb. 15, 2003.

by S.E. Shepherd
February 20, 2003

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Getting the 'Bug' and Kinks Out_S.E. Shepherd-Dave Davies in concert, Feb. 15, 2003. Forty years ago, a brash English teenager took a razor blade to his guitar amplifier to create a raw, new sound. Had Dave Davies and the Kinks only recorded “You Really Got Me,” their place in Rock history would still be solidly secured. But Davies and his bandmates went on to much more, becoming one of the few Rock bands to consistently release new material over four decades.

Davies was often overshadowed in the Kinks by big brother Ray, lead singer and chief songwriter of the band. Though content with his role as lead guitarist, Dave Davies aspired to become a singer/songwriter in his own right. Much like George Harrison of the Beatles, he was usually allowed one or two cuts per Kinks album. Now, with the Kinks on permanent hiatus, Dave is fronting his own band, touring to support his latest solo release “Bug.”

Davies made one of his limited appearances at Abbey Pub in Chicago. After local opening acts Green and Epicycle, Dave Davies and his band took the stage around 11:30. The Abbey served as a perfect venue for the evening, creating an intimate setting with acoustics that allowed the music to be loud, but not overpowering. Davies poured through a cornucopia of Kinks hits, new material, and lesser-known gems. He began his set without much fanfare, launching almost immediately into “Who’s Fooling Who,” the first song of his newest album.

Switching up, Davies then dipped deep into the Kinks library and pulled out one of his earlier tunes, the raga-Rock flavored, “Creeping Jean.” Problems with a guitar strap led Davies to switch guitars a few times, but the show’s pace never broke stride. He continued to vary old and new, splicing cuts from “Bug” amongst his Kinks classics. Davies even dared vocals on songs made popular by brother Ray, such as “Tired of Waiting,” “Set Me Free,” and “Dead End Street.”

Dave Davies connected with the audience from the beginning, encouraging sing-a-longs, and even taking requests from the fans. Highlights from his large song bag included “Death Of A Clown,” (which he introduced as a “drinking song”) “Living On A Thin Line,” and the closer, the anthemic, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else.” Davies even performed a rare Buddy Holly cover of “Listen to Me.”

But it was the encore that was the killer, a triple threat of “All Day and All Of the Night,” the biting “Father Christmas,” and, of course the song that started it all, “You Really Got Me.”

Dave Davies no longer uses the famous “green amp” that created the growl that revolutionized Rock so many years ago. No longer in the shadow of his brother, he has proven a viable frontman who can, to paraphrase a Kinks album title, “give the people what they want.” On a frozen February night in Chicago, Dave Davies proved he was still red hot, and still capable of producing some of the greatest Rock music ever.

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