They really got me – The Kinks musical plays Cardiff
Fifty years from now will an appreciative audience throng the Wales Millennium Centre to watch a musical about – let’s say One Direction? Maybe not, because the era of social media means fans know everything there is to know about Harry Styles et al.
Not so with 60s rockers The Kinks, the London band who grew up alongside The Beatles and The Who and whose signature songs include their breakthrough hit You Really Got Me, the haunting Waterloo Sunset, and the alleged ode to a cross dressing, Lola.
Sunny Afternoon – another great number penned by their leader Ray Davies – is the name of the musical which filled the WMC in Cardiff with rockers of a certain age – i.e. 60 plus – and by the end had them really wanting more.
The musical tells the story of the band from its launch in 1964, through its glory days of the great early singles, warts and all.
To be frank, it’s a story we’d probably all be able to make a good stab at if we hadn’t got a clue about the history of The Kinks. How they are discovered as a backing group playing debutant style balls, get agents ( a lot) who launch them on their way and hive off most of their lucrative earnings, then head off to the US where they hit all kinds of problems with unions, and then follows the inevitable disintegration of the band.
It’s almost the everyday story of every pop group from the swinging sixties, isn’t it?
But Sunny Afternoon stands out because we get glimpses of the real Ray Davies as he grapples with his musical legacy guided by his sister’s death on his 13th birthday and later all the attendant problems that came with being a pop star and leader of the group alongside finding love, getting married and having a baby.
Cardiff has its own place in the history of The Kinks when a long-running spat between Dave Davies, younger and more outrageous brother of Ray, and the band’s drummer ended up in a fight on stage at The Capitol, and Davies running off. The drummer ended up in Cardiff Royal Infirmary (but was OK).
Throughout the often witty script portends what was to come, with references to knighthoods (Ray Davies got one in the New Year’s Honours), to John Lennon not staying in bed with his wife (ha ha) and Paul McCartney – surely he wouldn’t let his wife sing in the band like Davies, would he?
But what really makes this production stand out is the excellent rendition of all those Kinks hits which the appreciative WMC crowd were obviously hoping for and the four band members were more than capable of delivering on.
The You Really Got Me riff – some might say the greatest of the sixties – becomes a leitmotif of the whole performance, wrapped up with a medley embracing that other great song Lola.
The ageing rockers of Cardiff were dancing in the aisles of the WMC and wanted more when the cast hurried off stage at the end.
Sunny Afternoon is on at the Wales Millennium Centre until 21 January 2017.