Ray Davies - vocals, guitar; Dave Davies - guitar, vocals; Ian Gibbons - keyboards, vocals; Bob Henrit - drums; Jim Rodford - bass, vocals
No one represents the crash-and-burn rock 'n' roll ethos better than the Kinks. Constant fighting and creative abandon have made them one of the most exciting and frustrating bands ever. By the time of this performance, the Kinks were already on their third or fourth career, periodically reinventing themselves artistically and commercially with a slowly revolving cast of rhythm sections. The 1987 incarnation of the band was at the tail-end of a solid string of hits in America, having mostly dropped the strong Anglo-centric themes of their seminal work from the '60s and '70s for a more universally crowd-pleasing, hard rock format.
This habit of constantly evolving undoubtedly kept the Davies brothers invigorated, as evidenced here at the Riviera Club in Chicago. It's a high-energy performance where even songs they must have played hundreds of times are attacked with the ferocity of a band half their age.
With such a long and varied recording history, there are bound to be a few numbers that even the most ardent Kinks fan couldn't defend, or more likely couldn't recognize, but the set here manages to survey the band's entire catalog with very little filler (tracks from then release Think Visual being among the weaker offerings). Such is the benefit of over two decades worth of material to draw upon, and lesser-known songs like "Misfits" and "20th Century Man" are welcome additions to the greatest hits/latest album format.
The Kinks would once again experience a spike in popularity in the '90s, as the forerunners of the Britpop explosion would cast Ray Davies as one of their primary influences. But this Chicago performance is proof that even during a supposed career lull, the Kinks were here to play.