Ray Davies: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Onetime Kink and Albarn idol Ray Davies proves the pop vignette wellspring has yet to dry up...

The mullet, thankfully, is no more. A tonsorial symbol of virtually every ageing rock star’s late-career malaise, the mullet is emblematic of Joe Legend’s final tumble into the bottomless abyss of obsolescence. Clearly, it is impossible to stoke the flames of genius while resembling Peter Stringfellow on a Pontins leisure break, which is why Ray Davies, erstwhile Kink and justly-lauded monarch of great British tunesmithery, has spent the last two decades chasing listlessly after the spores of his once fecund muse.

And while it would clearly take more than a hair-cut to spark Davies into writing something with the timeless, unplaceable beauty of, say, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, tonight proves that this sensibly coiffed Muswell Hillbilly isn’t quite ready yet to be consigned to the bath-chair of indignity. Basically the same show he’s been peddling for the last few years, Davies here weaves his majestic back catalogue into a fascinating narrative, infusing his affecting dramas with the same idiosyncratic strands of nostalgia and bitterness that have binded his oeuvre since his mid-’60s fey-dey.

Although gaps are plugged with some new, uncomfortably blooz-rockin’ offerings, Davies’ classic material works beautifully in its new-found context. Although renowned as a narrative song-writer, the pliability of his output is clear, with the likes of ‘Autumn Almanac’ and ‘See My Friends’ (transformed tonight into a moving elegy to his dead sister) glistening with fresh ambiguities.

Far transcending the vacuous colloquialisms of the Britpop movement he inadvertently fathered, Davies’ best work is haunted with a richness and depth of feeling that remains unvanquished. Mullet be damned.

Paul Whitelaw