Ian Waller enjoys Sunny Afternoon, a night of fantastic music from British rock royalty, The Kinks
It was no surprise that the audience was on its feet and even dancing in the aisles last night – The Kinks were in town and the music was simply too good to ignore. The Kinks were one of the greatest rock bands ever to come out of the British 1960’s music scene, and their music and story have been brought back to life through the stunning musical Sunny Afternoon, which is playing until 11 March at The Bristol Hippodrome.
Here is the story of two young brother, Ray and Dave Davies, who along with bassist Pete Quaife and drummer Mick Avory, created such inspirational songs as You’ve Really Got Me, All Day and All of The Night, Lola, Dedicated Follower of Fashion and the Waterloo Sunset, all against a backdrop of 1960s Britain, dodgy contracts, inept management, personal struggles and, throughout, a strong family bond.
The central performances are quite simply stunning, with Ryan O’Donnell offering an amazingly accurate portrayal of Ray Davies, both in terms of his voice and playing, and in showing the doubts and pressures on the young song-writing genius. Beside, on stage as in life, was the volatile, manic and wonderful brother Dave the Rave, energetically brought to life here by Mark Newnham, who appeared to be having a ball with every second in the spotlight.
The real magic of this production though is in the live interpretations of the wonderful Kinks’ catalogue of songs. With the cast playing their own instruments, backed up beautifully by a trio of extra musicians who were constantly onstage while just out of the action, Sunny Afternoon really succeeded in bring the music back to life in all of its energy and splendour. The hits were played with talent and feeling, none better than You Really Got Me and the show closing Lola, with the audience encouraged to stand up and join in.
Alongside the note perfect covers, other tracks were given beautifully re-crafted reimaginings, including a wonderful a capella version of Thank You for the Days which only added to the audience’s appreciation of the talent on stage in front of them.
To this day there are rumours that Ray and Dave might one day put their differences aside and reform The Kinks. Until that happens, Sunny Afternoon offers a wonderful, happy, incredibly talented celebration of the story behind this most inspirational of British rock bands.