Sunny Afternoon, Harold Pinter Theatre

Musicals documenting and celebrating the lives of prominent musicians and bands are increasingly popular: Jersey Boys, Thriller, Let it Be and now Sunny Afternoon, a show dedicated to the hits of the Kinks.

This punchy show enjoyed a sold-out run at the Hampstead Theatre, and has now transferred to the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre. Based on the music and lyrics of Ray Davies and a new book by Joe Penhall, the production follows the Kinks rise to stardom. The drama is set against the backdrop of Britain in the 50s and 60s and here we watch the ecstatic highs and thudding lows of this iconic band.

As a child I had a group of talented friends from Muswell Hill who formed a band, so moments of this musical really resonated with me. Four ordinary lads from North London strive for success while also trying to remain true to themselves.

The stage is simply set, with a catwalk through the audience in the stalls. We feel excitingly close to the action, and the loud amplified music pulses through the building, so you can feel and hear it. The four boys have been brilliantly cast: George Macguire is a wild, passionate and aggressive replica of Dave ‘the Rave’ Davies, while John Dagleish presents his older brother as a more thoughtful but headstrong lead, Ray Davies. Adam Sopp (as drummer Mick Avory) and Ned Derrington (as bassist Pete Quaife) provide compelling support to the two feuding brothers.

It is interesting to watch the backstory to a band who have influenced generations. Whether you remember the Kinks decades ago or have been introduced to their sound more recently, it is impossible not to enjoy the cast’s riotous renditions of You Really Got Me, Lola, Waterloo Sunset, and of course Sunny Afternoon.

Continues until May 23 2015, more information and book here.


The Cosmic Dead. The Total Refreshment Centre. Hackney.

12. December. 2014

If an imploding star makes any sound as it collapses into a Black Hole then The Cosmic Dead are probably replicating it in their billowing soundscapes. From the very first note they were at the heart of their burning star pounding out molten waves of intergalactic sound that rolled and tumbled forward and nowhere but the present. Swept up and blissed out the audience danced in this universe of ramshackle euphoria. The evening resembled something of the Art School Dance that goes on forever with visiting sonic balladeers. The Total Refreshment Centre or should I say,  outhouse to the cosmos made a fitting space with a stage that barely contained it’s visiting space travellers. It felt as much ‘Happening’ as gig and perhaps that’s what gives this Glaswegian outfit their irresistible charm. There is nothing pretentious in their sonic maelstrom or their uninhibited stage antics, just pure joy in their collapsing star of noise. A Black Hole worth never returning from…

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Man, Hugh Hamshaw-Thomas.

Everything Everything, Nokia Lumia Live Sessions

I have always loved the music of Everything Everything. The first time I saw them was at Hop Farm Festival where I was standing amongst a crowd of frenzied fans, including a middle aged group of enthusiasts who seemed to know every lyric to every song. I later found out they were the band’s parents, who had come along to support! This quirky group specialise in obscure lyrics, unlikely cross-rhythms and catchy choruses. Both their first and second albums have received critical acclaim.

Nokia picked this original rock-pop band for their final Lumia Live Sessions gig, to be held at a secret location. We were picked up from London Bridge pier at 6.45 pm and loaded onto a private clipper boat. Journalists and competition winners alike traveled down the river to London’s only surviving lighthouse, The Chainstore, in Trinity Buoy Wharf. Darkness had fallen and the venue was surrounded by the silhouetted London skyline; guests shuffled up the ramp from the boat, ravenous and excited.

Food was complimentary from three food vendors: we opted for Asian cuisine at Rainbo Food, delicious fresh chicken and coriander gyoza with a colourful salad, cooked in a 1948 ford pickup. It was tasty but the portion size was a little mean. For dessert we indulged at the Meringue Girls stall, beautiful rainbow-coloured handmade meringues in an assortment of flavours served with thick whipped cream and spiced fruit compote – wow they were good.

Inside the Chainstore, support acts Nick Jackson and Dora Martin played enthusiastically through their sets. It was only at 9 pm that the room became crowded as the audience pressed towards the stage ready for the main show. The Everything Everything set was electrifying, very affecting and powerful with songs like ‘My Kz, Ur Bf’ clearly thrilling the audience who sang along loudly.

The gig was the seventh and final event in Nokia’s Lumia Live series with three hundred lucky competition winners joining industry personalities and celebrities to attend this intimate session, the first gig of Everything Everything’s much awaited tour.