The highpoint is the finale, where we get treated to a good quality Kinks tribute act, blasting through Lola, All Day And All Of The Night and You Really Got Me with high-energy swagger. Throughout the show, the intelligent, iconic music of The Kinks lifts the energy (over thirty different tracks are featured). Unfortunately, this touring version of the multi-award winning West End production is in need of it.
One particular low point in the second act features two, slow, low-energy songs back to back, lead singer and songwriter Ray Davies’ call and his wife Raza’s response. These songs are played out in the same murky light, within the same telephone conversation. It’s not just sleep-inducing, it’s bad storytelling. Even in the louder, more exciting moments, strangely untheatrical lighting and an imbalanced sound mix lend the atmosphere of a house party that’s just slightly off.
The show’s book (ostensibly written entirely by Joe Penhall) is muddled and repetitive, portraying Ray Davies out to be a genius, sex symbol and prophet, as well as a gentle, misunderstood soul, screwed over by all the idiots around him. While this may even be true, it doesn’t make for an inspiring or interesting story, and yet a great proportion of the show’s three hours is devoted to talking heads without music. Because of this, the frequent swearing and the adult themes, this show is clearly not aimed at a family audience.
The Kinks are often overlooked in British pop history, and the audience’s standing ovation goes to show the level of love for their music and their story. Ray Davies lectures his brother about songwriting in the second act: “It’s not about the words, it’s about the atmosphere.” Perhaps he’s right; the best atmospheres in this show are created without words.