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  • Review by john Murray

Sunny Afternoon - the Kinks musical

Everyone knows the story of the Kinks but now I’m not so sure. What we remember through archived Top Of The Pops and radio chart run downs is that they had the first rock guitar riff with You Really Got Me and while the rest of the UK only caught up this in 1972 through the coming of heavy metal the Kinks were doing this in 1964. Not only once but with All Day And All Of The Night they successfully followed it up. The writing genius of Ray Davies came to the fore with Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, Days and the evergreen Waterloo Sunset. When 60’s pop was on the wane with the end of Merseybeat and the Beatles themselves back they came with two big chart toppers in a row with Lola then Apeman. Along the way we heard of their troubles internally and in the USA but without knowing the details.

In 2014 though a musical theatre production called Sunny Afternoon came to the attention of the music press and the long term Kinks fans. Here we had a story of trouble with the unions in the US, fights, squabbles, fall outs and resignations within the band, contract hell with Denmark Street svengalis and homesick band members when the hit machine really kicked in. Surely this was not the Kinks we knew? But wait this came from an original story by Ray Davies himself and with his full approval including some brand new arrangements of the songbook. Moving ahead two years and an Olivier Award later and the show comes to Edinburgh with the full production.

I mentioned new song arrangements of the songs we love but we also see the birth of You Really Got Me and the on stage development of Waterloo Sunset and Sunny Afternoon and all played live from the stage from this highly talented cast. The shy but talented vocalist Ray Davies is played by Ryan O’Donnell and the manic but skilled guitarist brother Dave is brilliantly portrayed by Mark Newnham. The simple set is creatively used and all the music and vocals are spot on. The supporting cast dance their way round the story appearing from all areas of the stage and sporting the hair and fashions of 60’s Britain. Expect the early groundbreaking hits in various styles and a rousing authentic Lola to celebrate another great moment in Kinks history. It could easily have been a hit after hit tribute band but this was carefully written and employed the songs to the story in a true stage musical way to great effect.

Edinburgh Playhouse till Saturday September 17th

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