THE rest of the country may be buffeted by a storm called Doris, but we have a Sunny Afternoon in York.
This is the hit West End musical based around the music and fevered Sixties' life of The Kinks, the Muswell Hill firebrands who hold a place in pop history as the first British band to be banned from the United States.
There is a well-worn rock truism that if the question is "Who's better, Blur or Oasis?", the answer is Pulp, increasingly so when reappraising the supreme English music of the Britpop era. Likewise, now when hearing the wondrous songs of Ray Davies en masse, if the question is "The Beatles or The Stones?", just maybe the answer is The Kinks.
In this year of multiple musicals at the Grand Opera House, The Commitments came to York last week, very strong on classic soul songs, so joyously performed, but not so strong in Roddy Doyle's 1980s' Dublin storyline that was a tad thin and caricatured. Sunny Afternoon is frankly in a different league, its turbulent tale a revelation for those who know The Kinks' katalogue but not the history and Kinks kontroversies behind it.
Only Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story can rival its impact – both shows are much more than a mere "jukebox musical" – and as with Buddy you can envisage Sunny Afternoon returning again and again.
Ray Davies has provided not only the 28 songs, all bar the closing Lola from the musical's span of 1963 to 1968, but also the original story turned into a witty, anarchic and moving book by Joe Penhall, charting The Kinks's rise from rowdy backing band to cavalier working-class lads caught in a maelstrom of mendacious, manipulative management deals and recording contracts, American red tape, band fall-outs and brotherly spats with loose cannon "Rave Dave" (Mark Newnham).
We learn of Ray's childhood stutter that returns in moments of stress; his refusal to have his far-from-perfect teeth replaced; his marriage to an expelled Bradford convent girl Rasa (Lisa Wright); his breakdown after the exhausting and exploitative American tour; and much more besides.
What's more, the songs brilliantly feed off and into the storyline, so, for example, when a homesick Ray (Ryan O'Donnell) and Rasa are an ocean apart and he craves comforting words down the phone, she sings the devastatingly romantic ballad I Go To Sleep.
The kreation of two Kinks kornerstones book-end the show, first the raw and raucous You Really Got Me, which has the theatre walls shuddering and later the part by part writing of Waterloo Sunset, a scene so beautiful amid the turmoil. Elsewhere, an a cappella Days is breathtaking.
O'Donnell, who first starred in the West End run, leads the touring company magnificently, his ballad singing particularly striking, his acting compelling too. Newnham is a scream as dangerous dandy Dave; Andrew Gallo, a volcanic figure as drummer Mick Amory and Garmon Rhys, so reserved when caught in the crossfire, as bassist Pete Quaife.
Director Edward Hall's exhilarating show wholly lives up to its Olivier Award-garlanded status, in fact it surpasses it with its potent portrait of sunny afternoons and dark days. Forget storm Doris. This is the real blast blowing through York.
Sunny Afternoon, Grand Opera House, York, tonight and tomorrow, 7.30pm; Saturday, 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or at atgtickets.com/york