Ray Davies, Royal Albert Hall, London

Kinks frontman back with a performance to cancel his past sins

"Waterloo Sunset" is just the peak of one of pop's most deathless songbooks, while his band, The Kinks, are arguably second only to the Beatles for their seismic impact on the 1960s. But since The Kinks dissolved a decade ago, Davies's instinct for prevarication has seen a promised solo album suffer Godot-like delays. Early next year, it may really arrive. In the meantime, we have to make do with great pop nights like this.

"Welcome to London," Davies, who fronted The Kinks for nearly 40 years, says a couple of songs in, still stick-thin, awkward and strangely ageless. He has begun with "I'm Not Like Everybody Else", the anti-anthem to his own twisted nature that he hid on a B-side in 1966, but now regularly roars at the start of any of his gigs.

His very decent band then help him stitch together the 1960s classic "Till The End of the Day", and the new "After the Fall".

These musicians will never be The Kinks, largely because they lack the goading presence of Ray's nemesis and necessary foil, Brother Dave. They do, though, give supple force to his songs. A faint reminder that, almost in passing, The Kinks helped invent heavy metal.

Davies's creative heartland, though, is a darker, lonelier place. An emission of old North London suburbs that may now exist only in his memory. His recent "Yours Truly, Confused, N10", and the vintage "Twentieth-Century Paranoid Schizoid Man" share a sense of clammy fear at the world beyond his door. In the latter's memorable phrase, refusing the whole 20th century: "I don't want to die here."

Such emotions are balanced, though, by a love for the people of his past far deeper than nostalgia. In "Oklahoma, USA", from 1971's last masterpiece, Multiple Hillbillies, he imagines his sister dreaming of Hollywood while buried in Muswell Hill. Sung solo, the melody and lyrics are bone-china delicate and lavender soft. It's a song and performance to cancel all of Davies's sins.

An acoustic medley from that other mislaid Kinks classic , 1968's Village Green Preservation Society, reinforces the feeling of an English dreamland. Not that Davies has ever been soft. "Are you the guy that heckled Dylan?" he silences one insistent Albert Hall drunk.

More breathtaking, forgotten gems are remembered and lovingly resurrected, right back to 1964's "I Go To Sleep". By the time he gets to "Days", taken a cappella like a hymn, the wonders are overwhelming. By "Waterloo Sunset", it's a surprise the roof is still on.

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