PREVIEW; Ray Davies and Band, Brecon Jazz Festival *****.
NOW entering its 31st year, the Brecon Jazz Festival normally reserves its opening night spot for the good and the great.
Last year it was the legend that is Burt Bacharach, so big boots to fill and, fortunately, this time around those ample feet belonged to a true British music legend - Ray Davies.
Along with brother Dave they co-founded one of pop's most influential bands The Kinks with Ray's song writing pivotal.
Although vastly underrated during much of their career, the band have since received the credit so rightly deserved.
Ray Davies has been acknowledged as the inspiration to many aspiring artists who have gone on to greatness themselves over the past few decades, some having sizable hits raiding The Kinks' interesting and diverse back catalogue.
Opening proceedings with a rocking I Need You, a b-side from 1965 hit Set Me Free, it was a dream set that unfolded for any Kinks aficionado, being swiftly followed by Where Have All The Good Times Gone, I'm Not Like Everybody Else and the wonderful Tired Of Waiting For You, the band's second UK number one.
Banned from touring America for four years at the height of their initial popularity, which could easily have seen them rival the greatness afforded to the likes Rolling Stones and The Beatles, Davies let the sell-out audience at the Market Hall into a little secret, though didn't elaborate, sadly.
He revealed that the band have also been banned from playing Neath, though I suspect the impact and damage wasn't quite as great as their US catastrophe. It was a relaxed and clearly cheerful Davies who delighted with chat in between numbers but sadly there appears no let-up in the sibling fall-out between Ray and brother Dave for a full-blooded Kinks reunion any time soon, judging from his comments.
Skirmishes between the two are legend making the Gallagher brothers look very much like lightweights in this department.
But thankfully we still have plenty to look forward to and with Davies featuring two new tunes I Heard That Beat Before and Rock 'n' Roll Cowboys from a proposed Americana album written on a recent sojourn to the States, the creative juices are still flowing, even if he is still missing his old bandmates.
With great support from a top notch band, Davies gave the audience pretty much what they wanted and even if the old vocal chords are a little croaky at times, there was no denying the quality of his work with a storming trio to end with: You Really Got Me, Lola, and a song I'd walk all the way to Brecon barefoot on broken glass to hear, Waterloo Sunset.
It is going to take some doing, but I'm already looking forward to next year to see how this wonderful festival sets about finding next year's opener, with Ray Davies leaving them some extremely large shoes to fill.
by Tony Woolway
Ray Davies at the Brecon Jazz Festival