If you have spent even the smallest amount of time with me recently, I’ll have definitely mentioned Sunny Afternoon to you – chances are I’ll have started to bang on about Adam Sopp‘s astounding drum solo (yes, that was an intentional drum pun).
I don’t want to spoil the effect of it for those of you who haven’t yet been to see the show (although I do question why you haven’t), but what I will say is that it’s 90 seconds of pure drum solo heaven. It’s in the second act, during The Kinks’ ill-fated tour of America as part of the British Invasion, and I guess must have taken some inspiration from this beauty by Joe Morello in Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’:
“I’ve just seen Dave Brubeck at the Hollywood Bowl. That’s all I wanted; I can die happy now.”
It has become my very favourite part of the show (and given how much I love Sunny Afternoon, that’s no mean feat). And in its wake I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic, actually…
My favourite band when I was younger was Queen, and Roger Taylor my favourite member of the group. I have vivid memories of making mixtapes (yes, mixtapes – that doesn’t make me that old) of his songs, as well as the tunes with the best drumming in them – and then forcing my parents to play the tapes in the car on even the shortest of journeys! Of course I’d tap along to the drum parts (hi-hat an’ all)… I even had a wand from a magic kit that I’d pretend was a drumstick; I got quite good at Roger Taylor-esque drumstick twirling, as well as memorising all the drum parts! And Mr Taylor has been known to indulge in the odd drum solo or two in his time:
A new obsession that’s come out of Sunny Afternoon’s drum solo is Whiplash. Granted, it is uncomfortable viewing – the atmosphere is more than just oppressive – but it has an amazing jazz soundtrack. And the last ten minutes? I genuinely thought I was going to have to pick my jaw up off the floor. The drum solo to end all drum solos! Serious skill and stamina.
Clearly I had respect for drummers before watching the film, but that respect has now reached far higher levels! The dedication it must take to become even a moderately good drummer boggles my mind… I think I chose wisely in becoming a pianist, let’s put it that way! (Not that the piano is easy, I’ll have you know! Especially when your handspan only just covers an octave…)
Of the 49 occasions on which I’ve seen Sunny Afternoon (yes, you read that correctly), Adam has played Mick 47 times. Each drum solo differs subtly in one way or another (that’s something I’ve mentioned before about why I love theatre), but two that stick in my mind are numbers 40 and 49. Sorry, I can’t be a lot more descriptive than that! On both nights everything went so smoothly – and I could feel my Cheshire Cat grin getting wider by the second. There was a fantastic audience, which must feed into each actor’s performance – never more so than when they’re centre stage.
Number 40 probably just edges it (that whole night was simply breathtaking) – but the 50th is just around the corner…