For the third consecutive year, Kinks founding member and guitarist Dave Davies has set out on an autumn US tour. The tour has covered much of the East Coast from Boston down to D.C., and will conclude next week in California before a one-off show in London in December. This past Thursday, Davies played at one of the most legendary venues on the east coast, the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.
The Stone Pony’s history is full of greatness, having hosted some of rock music’s most influential artists, most notably Bruce Springsteen. With guitars lining the dark walls, dim lighting, and a low stage, the grungy intimacy of the venue almost guarantees a good rock show.
Somewhat unusual for Davies was an opening act with Edward Rogers, who had appeared two days previous at his D.C. show. Rogers evoked much of the Kinks’ own heritage, including a song about Denmark Street, the 1960s epicenter of music publishing in London, and “Biba Crowd” in honor of the old fashion haven, so deeply entwined with British groups. Rogers even cheekily mentioned an old tradition of NY-area Kinks gigs wherein paper plates were tossed on stage with song requests.
Following Rogers, Davies and his band hopped onstage, starting with “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” and immediately transitioning to a roaring rendition of “All Day and All of the Night.” Notable about this gig was the absence of second guitarist Jonathan Lea (of the Jigsaw Seen), who has been present on all of Davies’ tours the past three years and has worked with the Kink over the course of 15 years. Davies acknowledged Lea’s absence due to a health emergency the previous day and dedicated “See my Friends” to him; I can happily report that he is fine now and returned to the stage the next night at City Winery.
Despite being down one member, Davies & Co. did not disappoint. Playing louder and harder to compensate, they created a wall of sound that filled the small building with electricity. What made the Stony Pony the perfect venue for Davies was the lack of seating, excluding a small section off to the side. With the audience already standing, the crowd really got into the songs, singing along enthusiastically and feeding into the energy of the room, to which Davies reacted with zeal. If there’s one thing that can really kill a gig, it’s seated shows where people are either unwilling to show enthusiasm because they’re seated, unable to due to tables or unusual set-ups, or even because they’re afraid of being told that they can’t, an unfortunate policy at many music venues these days. The unobstructed floor in front of the small stage allowed the audience to truly appreciate the whole experience of a raw rock show.
With the underground, garage-rock vibes on his side, Davies tore up the stage with some of his best-known Kinks riffs, including “Living on a Thin Line,” “She’s Got Everything,” and “Creepin’ Jean,” the latter of which was joined by a ceremonial panty toss from the audience. Bassist and keyboardist Tom Currier (also of the Jigsaw Seen) lead the crowd into the popular sing-along-song “Death of a Clown” with the jangling piano intro, and drummer Dennis Diken (of the Smithereens) was fierce on the drum skins, but also perfectly accompanied softer songs like “Strangers” with a haunting delicacy. While some songs, such as “Flowers in the Rain” were noticeably different to regular show-goers without Lea, Davies and the band still put on an unforgettable show, one which I believe one of the best that I’ve been to since I started seeing Davies play in 2013.
If you’re on the West Coast, be sure to check out Dave Davies’ final upcoming tour dates. And if you’ve missed out on the East Coast shows, Davies’ track record would suggest that you’ll have plenty more opportunities in 2016.
Have you seen Dave Davies in concert this year? Tell us your favorite highlights in the comments!
(Photos by James Swartz)