ROCK / Carry on hating, Dave and Ray

TIME plays tricks on irony. Something happens in the audience at The Kinks' show at the Clapham Grand which is as poignant as anything in Ray Davies' lyrical canon. A normal-looking, middle-aged fan in shirt and tie, who's been standing rapt and immobile throughout an energetic set, suddenly punches the air and screams out the chorus to 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else' as if his life depended on it. The Grand is the perfect venue for getting uncontrollably nostalgic about The Kinks. The newly opened balconies of the restored music hall spill over with goodwill. In response the band put their all into a set which offers great ness and mediocrity in roughly equal measure.

The dramatic fluctuations in The Kinks' work are traditionally explained in terms of the mythic power struggle between the brothers Davies. Their antipathy is still much to the fore. Whenever guitar-crazed junior sibling Dave embarks on a solo, Ray wanders offstage to change his jacket. The Kinks have a new album, Phobia (Columbia, all formats), which they insist on dipping into. By far the best number on it is 'Hatred', a duet about brotherly love with the memorable chorus 'Hatred - it's the only thing that keeps us together'.

But it's not just a matter of the elder brother's supple lyricism being overwhelmed by the younger's clod-hopping power-chords. The Kinks have made two great contributions to the rock 'n' roll pantheon, and the first of them - the primal buzz-punk aggression of 'You Really Got Me' and 'All Day and All of the Night' - owes at least as much to Dave as it does to Ray. But it's for the pioneering jug-band social observation of songs like 'Waterloo Sunset' (which they don't play) and 'Dead End Street' (which they do) that The Kinks will be remembered. Ray Davies' ear for the everyday - 'Pour the tea and put some toast on' - inspired much of the best British songwriting of the Seventies and Eighties, from The Jam via Madness to Morrissey. It's this fact that makes the absurd ponderousness of much of his subsequent writing so very hard to take.

Either Ray Davies can't tell his best from his worst, or he's got a perverse sense of humour. Just when the lovely, wistful 'Days' threatens to make the night a transcendent one, he launches into 'Aggravation' - an awful, (mercifully) unreleased 10-minute epic about cars taking over the planet, complete with interpretative dancers. The encores grind to a raucous halt with 'Great Balls of Fire' and 'Twist and Shout'; well-worn standards with nothing to offer the dry, homespun cadences of Davies' voice - strange choices for a band with more than enough great songs of their own. Davies, as so often, is probably making a point. Why else would he have donned a hideous reversible jacket with a Union Jack on the outside and the Stars and Stripes on the lining?

The Kinks' vision of Englishness was never meant to be the whole picture first time around, but a night at the Holloway Rocket shows just how much of now is missing from it. In the entrance hall to the Club Megadog there's an Animal Liberation Front information stall, and someone is selling watermelon and individual Mr Kipling apple pies at surprisingly reasonable prices. Inside, for all the mind-contracting chemicals in the communal bloodstream and the stereotypes of 'dog-on-a-string' social disorganisation, the proceedings run as if on invisible wires.

DJs, bands, unicylists and deranged, fluorescent trapeze artists follow on seamlessly. When their turn comes, Fun-Da-Mental - militant Asian rappers from Bradford - march up and down the stage and wave sticks, but in a friendly way. Individual words don't stand out from their hyped- up ragga stutter, but the music they've constructed is unfailingly eloquent. Sampled voices, prayer calls and marching feet build up a powerful wash of sound on songs like the current single, 'Wrath of the Black Man'. A potential air of menace is dissipated by a riot of multi-cultural headgear - turban, Kangol and Palestinian kaffiyeh. Like their obvious role models Public Enemy, Fun-Da- Mental reverse the racial polarity of power, and the overall effect is to celebrate diversity, not promote separatism.

By the time the electro-folk outfit Ultramarine have hit the stage, most of the crowd are past discernment. Barclay James Harvest could essay a rockabilly set and enthusiasm would not flag. As it happens, they are excellent. Anonymous in appearance - a posse of short-haired men fiddling amiably with synthesisers - but distinctive in sound, Ultramarine take the established languages of disco and dub, slow them down and spruce them up. The backdrops of flowers and faces complement a style of music that can best be described as pastoral house. Their forthcoming collaboration with Robert Wyatt is awaited with keenness.

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project