On December 18, 2015, The Kinks front-man, Ray Davies reunited with his brother Dave for the first time in 19 years. The two appeared on stage together during a Dave Davies concert and performed The Kinks’ first big hit, You Really Got Me. This incredible moment in rock and roll proves that the Kinks shouldn’t reunite.
Regular readers of this site will know that I am a huge Kinks fan. Seeing Ray Davies perform his choral arrangements in San Francisco stands as one of the best rock concert moments of my life and I treasure their music above almost all others. So why is a Kinks reunion a bad idea? Because it can do nothing but disappoint.
In the 20 years since The Kinks were a functioning unit, Ray Davies has put out some of the best work of his career and Dave Davies has managed to overcome a stroke and continues to produce albums but, truth be told, Dave is not the guitar player he once was (as is evident in the videos from his recent tour and this reunion) and it doesn’t seem that he has the energy needed to put on a great Kinks concert.
I didn’t know who The Kinks were when they last played together so this would be my first opportunity to see them live and if given the opportunity, I want to see them in their prime with loud, rockin’ guitar solos and high energy. I do not want to see two old brothers just going through the songbook. That said, being at a Dave Davies concert where Ray just happened to appear and sing a couple of songs would be the thrill of my life.
What’s the difference? A Kinks reunion tour (or album) carries a lot of weight. There is a legacy to preserve and honor when it becomes a Kinks show but if one brother just happens to show up at another’s concert to do one or two tunes, that’s a special treat. That’s not The Kinks. There is no pressure for Ray and Dave to sound like The Kinks when it’s just the two of them jamming for a tune, it’s just two brothers from a band you like who are having an “impromptu” moment.
So how should Ray and Dave proceed in the future? I’d like to see more dates like this one where one brother shows up at the other’s show and sings a couple of tunes. Maybe Ray’s next album should have a rocker with Dave as guest guitar or Dave’s next album could feature Ray on vocals. The two of them working together from time to time and performing live together here and there would be just enough to satisfy and excite us die hard fans without ever running the risk of tarnishing a legacy that, after 50 years, is finally starting to get the recognition it deserves.
Rule number one in this business of show (other than having the heart of a lion and the hide of an elephant) is to leave the audience wanting more and to reunite the band now would fly in the face of that idiom. If Ray and Dave keep giving us these little teases we’ll always want more and we’ll never walk away disappointed with what we do get.
We, as fans, have built up a Kinks reunion as the ultimate experience because we remember how great they were back in the day but back in the day has long passed and the bar is set higher than any band could ever hope to clear.
If God is really to save The Kinks, our memories will be preserved as they are and not tainted by the site of some tired men in their 70’s trying to reclaim their youth. All that said, I expect Dave to be at the next Ray Davies concert I attend.
God save little shops, china cups, and virginity