Without the Kinks there would be no Pretenders or The Jam or Madness.
They made being ordinary extraordinary. So it’s only right they are honoured in the rock and roll theatre of fame.
A true story, time-less music and first class performances – the ingredients for great theatre.
Some music biographies on stage are hit and miss.
Queen’s We will Rock You did not enhance the band’s reputation. And countless other jaded juke-box musical fail to tell the real stories.
Sunny Afternoon ticks all the boxes.
When you have the man who wrote the songs – Ray Davies – creating the concept you know you have a thoughtful piece of authentic drama from the West End Olivier Awards to this stunning touring version.
Ray, now 70, who with younger brother David, turned The Kinks into 60s icons made a guest appearance in the audience at the first night on the Liverpool leg of this UK tour.
His involvement has ensured multi-accolades. It’s easy to see why as the story chronicles the ups and downs of these working class, self-appointed Muswell Hill-billies before that area of London became trendy.
We see them at home aiming to get away from Dead End Street and later in the studios eventually making number one on Top of the Pops.
Along the way talented – but reckless – riff king Dave thrashes hotels while the band conquer the UK charts and Ray gets married.
We see them fall foul of the United States musicians union and the band were banned from playing for what could have been four lucrative years.
This is a lengthy show – ten minutes short of three hours. It packs a lot in in from a tight, eye-opening script from John Penhall and Edward Hall’s direction.
It’s a slick production rich in dialogue, featuring witty rock references about John Lennon, The Who and a remark about rock knighthoods being the most topical . . . isn’t that right, Sir Ray!
There’s plenty of rock and roll soul searching but the songs still speak volumes.
Ray ws witty, wistful, cyniucal and accessible. He put his heart into every lyric and catchy, insopurational melody. I once interviwed him and his integrity shone through as it does in every secne in this warts and all story.
The wide-aged group audience are treated to 20 Kinks classics many with clever arrangements others true to the originals that have become radio station favourites to this day.
The enigmatic Ray is played by Ryan O’Donnell who captures the complex personality of the Kink frontman weaving from creative bursts to melancholy.
And the boisterous Dave, played by energetic and electric Mark Newnham, showed the touch-paper chemistry between the siblings – they were like chalk and cheese.
The tension was there too between guitarist Pete Quaife (Garmon Rhys) and Andrew Gallow as angry drummer Mick Avory. They too put all musical differences aside on stage.
Songs such as Days are given a wonderful acapela flourish while the rockers such as You Really Got Me, All Day and All of the Night and Set Me Free pulsate.
There’s pure nostalgia from Carnaby Street and the influential sixties fashion and dance.
There is a beautifully-constructed scene seeing how the band put together the whimsical Waterloo Sunset (originally written about Liverpoo) now firmly regarded as a London love song.
Dedicated Follower of Fashion and Well Respected Man were pure satire. Ray Davies was and to a cerytian degree still is Englishness personified. He went on to inspire heavy metal, punk and spear-headed concept albums and pop videos.
But it’s the songs that remain the same – the huge back catalogue is his outstanding legacy.
A rousing version of Lola and a standing ovation clearly illustrated why the Kinks left their mark and deserve their place as pioneers in the great rock and roll history story.