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Ray Davies at Chicago Theatre | Concert preview

Fans can enjoy Davies unfettered. Though a pint of Guinness wouldn’t hurt.

Ray Davies

Garlanded wordsmiths like Ted Hughes and Alfred, Lord Tennyson have presided as Great Britain’s poet laureate, yet surely more enduring in the hearts of a nation of pub-crawlers is the singular Ray Davies. Buoyed by cascading harmonies and choral “sha-la-la”s, the lyrics to “Waterloo Sunset” pinpoint an instant of transcendence in the solitary glance of a London everyman: “Every day I look at the world from my window / But chilly, chilly is the evening time / Waterloo sunset’s fine.”

Through 32 (on-again, off-again) years with the world’s greatest (underrated) rock & roll band, the Kinks, and a subsequent solo career, Davies has written dozens of unforgettable songs. Just ask Wes Anderson or the ad agency that produces commercials for Hewlett-Packard.

Whether subversively catchy trick narratives (“Lola”), lyrical romantic elegies (“Days”) or even perfect jukebox thrashers (“You Really Got Me”), the songs illustrate a quotidian sensibility with a vulnerability and charm that cock-rocking peers like the Who and the Stones never had. Quite a few of those tunes appear on last year’s See My Friends, a rather unnecessary all-star retrospective (Bon Jovi? Mumford & Sons? Must we?).

Thankfully, the performer’s current solo tour—after his recovery from a medical crisis earlier this year—won’t be leaning on celebrity special guests. Fans can enjoy Davies unfettered. Though a pint of Guinness wouldn’t hurt.