Sunny Afternoon, New Victoria Theatre, Woking
The so-called British Invasion of the US in the mid-‘60s is best remembered for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who taking our music (and culture) over there. The Kinks only had a slight involvement following a union bust-up and a refusal to ‘play the game’ in the US – but, looking back, their back catalogue matches (and often surpasses) the others.
It’s the sheer depth and quality of The Kinks’ material that shines through in this musical trawl through the band’s early history. The story – told very much from frontman Ray Davies’ point of view – is very similar to that of many other musical icons, i.e., working-class lads make good, get ripped off by the biz, fall out with each other and eventually power on through to success.
However, as hit follows hit, it becomes very clear just how talented the lads from Muswell Hill were. Just Go To Sleep, A Well Respected Man, Dead End Street, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, You Really Got Me, Stop Your Sobbing all get an airing…and that’s just the first half!
The second part of the show concentrates on Ray’s depression, loneliness and ever- decreasing relationship with his first wife Raza and his guitarist brother Dave – but this offers a chance for them to play I’m Not Like Everybody Else, Sunny Afternoon (of course), Days, Waterloo Sunset and Lola. Incredibly, songs like Victoria, Dandy, Death Of A Clown and Village Green Preservation Society don’t even get included!
Ryan O’Donnell shines in the lead role as Ray, portraying him as a delicate songwriting genius, just as the singer wanted when he penned this musical. Brother Dave appears as the goofy hellraiser and almost steals the show, with Mark Newnham displaying superb guitar skills as well as immaculate comic timing.
It’s a common enough story well told but is worth going for the music alone – what a catalogue of fine work!
Runs until Saturday (5 Nov)