7-11 February 2017
Reviewed by Jan Mellor
As I arrived to a packed theatre I was looking forward to watching the story of the 60’s band The Kinks. Although a little young to remember them properly their classics “Sunny Afternoon”, “Lola” and “Waterloo Sunset” were up there in my top 20 hits.
The show started as dancers (from the auditorium) got up on stage to dance to a band ‘The ‘Ravens’ but the tempo soon picked up when the band changed to play “I’ve gotta move”. The concert hosts realise the potential in these four 16/17 year olds (that included brothers Ray and Dave Davies) and decide to manage them. The first act moved a little disjointedly to them being named ‘The Kinks’ (as in their green velvet suits they looked Kinky’), through songs of “Respected man about town” and Dead-End street” and the managers persuading Ray and Dave’s dad to sign their contracts, Ray writing fantastic tunes (“You’ve really got me” and “All day and all of the night”) and falling in love, marrying and becoming a father with a fan – Rasa. Humour was injected throughout the story by Dave’s love of dressing up /the absurd and his ‘zest’ for the world of rock and fans and prompted the song “A dedicated follower of fashion”. The first act ended as tensions rose between the volatile Dave and Mick the drummer with a fight ensuing on stage – Ray as always trying to hold it all together.
“Isn’t it wonderful!” a lady exclaimed in the interval “I remember them being just like that – always causing havoc but playing such fantastic songs – it’s so true to life!”
The second act saw the band flying over to find their fortune in America. Through their stubborn pride, however, this did not bode as well as expected and their tour was cut short and the band returned to England to make “Sunny Afternoon” which in 1966 coincided with England winning the world cup. The band continued to have doubts and fallouts but this performance demonstrated how their love to be true to themselves kept them strong and determined.
The show came to a crescendo with the wonderful “Waterloo Sunset” and “Lola” and the audience were willingly up on their feet and embracing the great tunes and era of individualism. The show was packed with great songs, heartfelt moments, nostalgia and entertainment. I had not realised how many songs The Kinks had made through their years of success (55 Singles and 23 albums listed in the programme) and this production was a true reflection of their struggle and genius. Well Done!
A great night – a fantastic script, choreography and 60’s nostalgia. Stunning singing from all the cast – especially Ryan O’Donnell (Ray) and a fabulous drum solo by Andrew Gallo (Mick). I heard people saying, “That was brilliant, feels like I am there again in 60’s Britain, really well done!” as they left the theatre (which is testimony itself). Even if you’re not a Kinks fan – this show delights. Well worth it and very well performed – wish I was born 10 years earlier to have witnessed the band in their prime!
Tickets cost from £12 to £65 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Sunny Afternoon is at the Liverpool Empire until 11 February 2017. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 8713017.
Liverpool Empire Theatre, Lime Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JE | 0844 8713017