Buying a Stairway to Heaven

Impressions of the 5th Kinks Fan Meeting in Utrecht/NL (April 21th 2002)
by Thomas Bartoldus

Who would have imagined? Although the Kinks aren’t active since almost 6 years while Ray Davies is still busy finishing his first ‚real‘ solo album and brother Dave is forced to play gigs at more or less small venues, the fifth fan meeting in the Netherlands was attended very well. More than 300 fans from all over the world (even from the U.S.) had come to enjoy the special atmosphere of the rock café „Stairway to Heaven“ in the centre of Utrecht. It was a great opportunity to discuss the music of our rock heroes, to see the performances of the bands or to complete record collections.

Musically, it began with the spirited set of the Kinky2 who elegantly prepared the crowd for the main act, the Kast Off Kinks. Only a two-men-piece, Henny Stahli und Herman Gombert managed to bring new life to the Kinks’ gems. Especially the ballads went down very well (e.g. „This Strange Effect“ which seems to be an obligatory number in the Netherlands).

In contrast to the Kinky2, the second act The Flamin’ Stars - although full of enthusiasm - wasn’t really convincing to me. Particularly, slower numbers just as „Art Lover“ couldn’t match the originals by any chance.

Between the performances the fans were entertained by a video presentation of an interview Dave Davies gave in a Belgian late night show three days earlier. In conversation with his host Dave expressed his wish to re-form the Kinks in 2004 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band.

The undisputable highlight of the day was certainly the live performance of John Dalton, John Gosling, Dave Clarke und Mick Avory - the KOKs, as a new fan t-shirt labelled them in a truly kinky way. The Kast Offs performed high-spirited as usual, including all the numbers of their „Archway Tavern E.P.“ (which is available via the English fan club) in their two-hours-set. To me, “Powerman” and “God’s Children” have been the stand-out tracks. Dave Clarke’s remark, the KOKs dream of playing with Dave the Madison Square Garden, was kind of a sarcastic comment on the recent problems the group had to face with their plans to tour the U.S. Nevertheless the crowd really enjoyed the concert. John Dalton’s witty announcements proved that the four guys felt happier performing for this ‘familiar’ audience than playing in front of a “small crowd” (“Was it even a crowd?”, Dalton asked his friends) at Utrecht’s big record fair the day before.

The Kinks day came to a perfect end with a raffle whose prizes (CDs, posters, LPs and more) were object of many fans’ desires. The benefits of the 5th fan meeting will be donated to the Dutch Childhood Leukaemia Study Group.

One must congratulate the Dutch fan club. They have put much work in organizing this excellent meeting. Thank you! The only ‘negative’ thing I have to mention is that they have allowed a professional seller to offer bootleg CDRs at far too high prices. „Buying a stairway to heaven“ may be a fine line in Led Zeppelin’s rock classic but it surely has no place in “collector’s heaven“.