Tag Archives: Brighton

Sunny Afternoon (the musical based on the story of the Kinks) at The Theatre Royal, Brighton 22/12/16

I’m not normally a huge fan of musicals. However, I am a huge fan of The Kinks so when the opportunity to see Sunny Afternoon came up I was never going to say no.

With most musicals I generally find the mix of dialogue and song unconvincing. The one musical I have properly enjoyed prior to this was Buddy, telling the story of the rise and fatal crash of Buddy Holly & The Crickets. This at least made sure that the only musical parts of the dramatisation were when the characters were realistically engaged in rehearsing, recording or performing.

With his love of love of music hall and vaudeville, however, this was never going to be an option for Ray Davies and it’s very much a musical in the fullest sense of the word – with choreographed dance routines, whole-cast sing-alongs, chunks of dialogue delivered in song and the full works. Normally, the sort of thing that would make me run a mile. But, as well as good, loud, convincing performances of many Kinks songs there was much I found to like in this production. It ostensibly tells the story of Ray Davies’ battle between artistic integrity on the one hand, and the demands of the 60s-era music business on the other. But the fiery relationship between Ray and brother Dave is also examined. (Why do nearly all brothers in bands have such fiery relationships?). Although there is a temptation for the Dave character to come across as a two-dimensional wanna-be-rockstar-cum-actual-rockstar he is brilliantly played by Mark Newnham and some of the complexities of the character and his relationship with his brother are convincingly explored.

Some of the more overly-theatrical elements of the show irked slightly but there were some really powerful scenes, too. My favourite bit is towards the end when the band are in the studio laying down the parts to Waterloo Sunset. It’s genuinely moving seeing the characters lay down hostilities and come together in this scene, emotionally as well as artistically. Overall, even for a hardened sceptic on this whole theatrical genre, I found Sunny Afternoon hugely enjoyable.

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http://sunnyafternoonthemusical.com/

Related review:
Dave Davies (with Ray!) Islington 2015

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Hawkwind at The Old Market, Hove 29/9/14

Although I’d seen various Hawkwind offshoots composed of various combinations of ex-members, tonight is the first time I’d seen the band, formed in 1969, that continues to carry the Hawkwind name to this day. The Old Market is a small to medium sized venue and is absolutely jam-packed this evening. The audience are suitably attired, looking pretty much exactly as you would expect at a Hawkwind gig, even if some of them have walking sticks. However, there is a healthy smattering of 20- and 30-somethings  throughout the crowd, too. Proof that the band are still reaching new audiences, even today.

I’d not caught Hawkwind themselves before and I’ve never taken LSD before either. However, the light show, a constant backdrop of swirling fluorescent computerised graphics (on top of numerous pints of the venue’s guest real ale) started to give me a reasonable approximation of what it might be like. Talk about putting you in the right mood. The band themselves are great. All the classic ingredients of the trademark Hawkwind  space-rock sound are present: the pounding, rumbling bass; the whoops and bleeps; Dave Brock’s ever present guitar as well as strong and convincing vocals from current lead singer, Mr Dibs. Of the songs, there is a good selection of classic Hawkwind material: Assault and Battery Uncle Sam’s on Mars, Orgone Accumulator, Motorway City all made an appearance. Sadly though, there was no Silver Machine this evening, the band encoring with Reefer Madness instead. My one main quibble.

Wikipedia painstakingly lists thirty-nine different line-up of this band throughout its history, guitarist Brock being the only constant member. However, the current line-up put on an entertaining show that is faithful to the spirit of Hawkwind for anyone who’s had more than a passing interest in the band and well worth seeing.

http://www.hawkwind.com/

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