Off on a tangent…

Sat watching a brilliant BBC Four documentary on fandom over the weekend, not only was I transported back to my childhood and my own love of Queen, but I got to thinking about my current obsession: Sunny Afternoon.

Ben Caplan and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon.  Photograph by Kevin Cummins
Ben Caplan and John Dagleish in Sunny Afternoon.
Photograph by Kevin Cummins

Obviously going to the show has properly introduced me to the music of The Kinks (my CD collection is ever-expanding!), as well as providing me with an extended family (the Theatre Tourist has also blogged about this recently). Not to mention the drum solos! However, its influence over me has actually been much more far-reaching than I initially thought.

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A recommendation from John finally convinced me to see Birdman – a slightly weird one, but it has opened my eyes to the more arty film. Plus it has a cracking jazzy drum soundtrack! And while I’m name-dropping slightly, George increased my curiosity in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown when he mentioned all the bizarre Spanish chords the guitarists had to play. So I eventually saw that, loved it, and saw it again on its closing day just over a week ago.

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But what it’s really done is opened my eyes to a range of music & theatre that I might not otherwise have had the pleasure of finding.

George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins.
George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon. Photograph by Kevin Cummins

Towards the end of last year, Julie Atherton released her third studio album. At that point I was still a theatre rookie, so embarrassingly I didn’t really know who she was! Julie’s album came to my attention as Olivier winners (not then, obviously!) George Maguire & John Dagleish both sang duets on it, the former writing both songs.

The whole CD is fantastic, creating its own distinct sound, but aside from the title track (‘Rush of Life’, written by Craig Adams) George’s songs are definite standouts. ‘Your Body’ is a beautifully bittersweet modern love song, and ‘Trail of Behaviour’ is powerful & anthemic. Having only previously heard them singing Kinks songs (& in character) it was great to hear them in a different context, as themselves and singing original songs. The album is still available online – if you’re a fan of the boys’ singing in the show I urge you to give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!

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I had hoped to see Julie as Janet in Shock Treatment at the King’s Head Theatre, but I won’t be able to make any of the final performances sadly; she can next be found at the Arts Theatre in I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which I’m determined to catch (I do watch stuff other than Sunny Afternoon, after all!). She has a properly stunning voice, which I’d love to hear live!

Talking of her theatrical endeavours, I also recently saw Lift for the first time, thanks to Digital Theatre making it available to buy or rent online.

This show played at the Soho Theatre in early 2013, so unfortunately while I was still a theatre newbie & making my way round well-known & established shows – which made me all the more glad it was filmed & released! Again, this is something that came to my attention because it featured George, this time as Busker. It is a truly unique and very smart show that explores modern relationships and the choices we make. There is an incredible array of talent on show in this production, including the amazing Cynthia Erivo. And it was a completely original idea, rather than a re-working of a film (as is the current trend)…

Sunny Afternoon.  Photograph by Kevin Cummins.
Sunny Afternoon.
Photograph by Kevin Cummins

You may not be surprised to hear that I’ve spent a fair amount of time of late watching Sunny Afternoon-related clips on YouTube (not that there are many). Well, a few months ago this led to the site recommending a music video to me: Anthony Strong‘s ‘Cheek to Cheek’. I was curious, as I love that song (Top Hat is one of my all-time favourite classic musicals) and wondered what this version would offer. So I watched it and really enjoyed it… Then promptly forgot about it! This was back in February, so very deep in my Sunny Afternoon obsession and coming up to my 50th show – that’s my excuse anyway. But then a few weeks ago this tweet appeared:

Of course I had to check this out! The whole thing is just gorgeous. I may have watched it quite a few times… Because I was poor when the album came out I had to satisfy myself with Spotifying it, but I am happy to say that I now own it (a tiny amount of coaxing later!). I do love a bit of big band!

From chatting to Adam after some recent visits to the show I found out that he’d co-written a couple of songs on Anthony’s previous album (Stepping Out), which obviously intrigued me. If you are equally curious, they are ‘Falling In Love‘ and ‘Earlybird‘; I adore them. The former is painfully truthful yet beautiful, the latter a sweet jazzy number. So now, naturally, I own this album too.

My daily mp3 player playlist since 1 November 2014 had been a combination of the Sunny Afternoon soundtrack & The Kinks but, after almost 7 months, this has been usurped! It has been infiltrated by a sizeable jazz collection. Although on the recent Bank Holiday Monday I did spend around 4 hours wandering all across London solely listening to Anthony Strong – and boy, did that sound good!

The only problem with this is that it’s really making me miss my piano! I did a lot of jazz piano as I was growing up and perhaps didn’t always fully appreciate it – and now I really get it I’m almost 200 miles away from my piano… For now, I’ll just have to content myself with tapping along while I listen! (Who doesn’t love a bit of air piano too?) And maybe taking in a bit of live jazz will help as well – that is firmly on my to-do list.

Consequently, I am exploring more jazz too (Whiplash has also helped on this score) – and there is a fantastic episode of Jazz 625 on iPlayer at the moment featuring the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Obviously this immediately made me think of “I’ve just seen Dave Brubeck at the Hollywood Bowl! That’s all I wanted; I can die happy now.”… It really is a fantastic watch, as much for the incomparable Joe Morello as anything else.

So, as you can see, Sunny Afternoon has started shaping my life in more ways than one!

Adam Sopp, Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Lillie Flynn and George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon.  Photograph by Kevin Cummins.
Adam Sopp, Ned Derrington, John Dagleish, Lillie Flynn and George Maguire in Sunny Afternoon.
Photograph by Kevin Cummins
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