A great time with Sir Cliff

Cliff Richard, who turned 81 on October 14, is still going strong and showing no signs of slowing down.

SCREEN:  Cliff Richard: the Great 80 Tour – Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo, Durban (final screenings of this filmed-live concert are at 6.30pm on November 16 and 17)

AFTER more than a year of no live performances, due to Covid-19 restrictions, British pop music’s perennial Peter Pan, Cliff Richard, finally got to launch his long-delayed 80th birthday concert tour last month. Then, a few days after his 81st birthday on October 14, his sold-out performance in London, at the gorgeous Royal Albert Hall, was beamed live to some 500 cinemas in the UK.

That concert film is now being shown at Durban’s latest outlet for quality filmed stage shows, the Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, Umbilo.

Theatre manager Roland Stansell has negotiated a great deal which allows him to show some wonderful filmed stage productions – everything from Shakspearean classics and ballet to opera, pop and full West End musicals – and the Cliff Richard concert is one of the best offerings to date.

For only R100, one gets the opportunity to see a great filmed live performance and buy drinks and light meals to enjoy while watching the movie at long tables, with all Covid-19 regulations in place. And before you grumble about sound and picture quality, let it be known that the venue has a new, large screen and its newly acquired equipment for the films offers truly excellent sound.

Any fan of Harry Webb, to give Sir Cliff’s birth name, simply must not miss the 80th birthday concert event, which has final screenings at 6.30pm today and tomorrow (November 16 and 17). There is also a chance of another screening on either Monday, November 22 or 29. Watch this space!

The concert is hugely enjoyable concert, with ever-amiable Cliff wowing a packed Royal Albert Hall, backed by top-notch musicians that include two impressive young men who offer guitar, back-up vocals and spots of choreography.

Arriving on stage in black trousers and a sparkly black shirt, topped with a white tailcoat, the slim and agile Cliff, with a full head of hair and looking at least 10 years younger, launches straight into Wired for Sound, his voice, surprisingly, also showing very little sign of his age.

He goes on to don various jackets during the next two hours and covers a wide mix of music. Not only are most of the obvious big hits on the programme  – although I did miss Forty Days and Bachelor Boy – but also here are some appealing new songs, an occasional obscure album track to add interest, and some lighthearted banter and interesting bits of info.

Did you know, for instance, that Cliff was the first star in Britain to import a Fender Stratocaster guitar, heard on his early hits, including Do You Wanna Dance?, which he performs to loud appreciation here? We also get the early hit Please Don’t Tease and Cliff’s debut single, Move It, released in the late 1950s, when he was just 17.

Cliff also announces from the stage that his latest album has entered the Top 5 in the UK chart , making him the only UK artist to have a Top 5 album in each of the past eight decades!

The concert is filled with many special moments, including a chat with Cliff and behind-scenes footage during the show’s interval, and it is astounding how much energy and how many good moves this octogenarian still has after all these years, time in which he has sold more than 250 million records.

The show’s biggest highlight is a crowd-rousing medley of Living Doll, Summer Holiday, The Young Ones and Congratulations, but also of note is a haunting, harmony-packed delivery of the ballad Miss You Nights (with Cliff and his two backing singers on stools) and a second-half, well-lit marriage of Carrie and Devil Woman. Great, too, is the closing We Don’t Talk Anymore, which gets the crowd hopping and bopping.

Of the lesser-known songs, the catchy newies Older and the poignant PS, Please impress, along with a late-’80s Cliff number about brotherhood and war called Marmaduke, and the show’s encore item, Golden, an expression of Cliff’s huge appreciation of his many fans.

To book for the Cliff Richard concert movie contact Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636. Or email him a roland@stansell.za.net

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