AFTER a successful run in the West End, the show based on the story of The Kinks has started its first UK tour in Manchester – and what a show it is!

We are all familiar with the hits that the band, led by Ray Davies, have had over the years and some may say that they form the soundtrack of the Sixties.

Well, that was certainly the case as a capacity audience clapped, sang and danced to this great music.

But this is no jukebox musical.

It was very clever how Davies, who penned the original story, selected songs to illustrate the plot instead of just playing them chronologically. For instance, when Ray (played by Ryan O’Donnell) and his first wife Rasa (Lisa Wright) are describing their feelings, they sing That Strange Effect – a song that The Kinks only recorded as a BBC session.

Sunny Afternoon has condensed the early history of the band into a cogent story, telling most of the facts, but sometimes slightly altering the timeline.

There is emotion; especially when Ray is feeling homesick in Hollywood and explains to his wife over the phone using the song Sitting In My Hotel. He also pours scorn on the money men of the record industry with Moneygoround.

There is also a lot of humour, particularly when Dave Davies (played brilliantly by Mark Newnham) gets involved. Mark plays the wild man to perfection.

Yes, it is a good and interesting story, but at the end of the day, it’s the music we wanted to hear and we got loads of it. In fact, most of the hits the band had before 1970 were performed either as part of the plot or as part of a concert.

The drum solo played by Mick Avory (Andrew Gallo) was exemplary.

Full marks though, go to Ryan O’Donnell, who reprised his West End portrayal of the troubled genius Ray Davies. Ryan’s time touring with Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull have certainly paid dividends as he is a natural performer. Excellent timing and emotion are both part of his repertoire – and he can really sing too. He can also do Ray’s ‘sneer’ very well.

The finale had everyone on their feet as we enjoyed Lola, All Day and All of the Night and You Really Got Me in quick succession.

We were all back in the Sixties and, as the cast made their final – much deserved – bows, we had one last surprise. The man himself, Raymond Douglas Davies CBE, came on stage and naturally the roof came off.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Sunny Afternoon, Manchester Opera House until Saturday, August 27. Details from 0844 871 3018