Concert review: Cliff Richard, Vector Arena

By Graham Reid

9 comments
Sir Cliff Richard. Photo / File photo
Sir Cliff Richard. Photo / File photo

With the cancellation of Yanni, the Cliff Richard show became the least hip'n'cool concert of the summer season. Not that he, nor his enthusiastic and loyal audience which poured out in their thousands to see him, could care less about the whims of musical fashion.

Richard - now 72 and more than half a century on from his first hit - just went about entertaining in a polished show of rock'n'roll (his classic Move It), flashy 80s pop (Wired for Sound) and emotional ballads delivered with astonishing power (Ocean Days).

Say what you like about Richard, you can't deny he presents a professional but also engaging show which comes with excellent lighting, a snappy band (singer Suzie Furlonger outstanding) and plenty of energy.

At 50 minutes before the half-hour interval and another 70 afterwards, it was also good value and Richard, barely pausing for a breath or even a drink of water, just kept the songs and often amusing self-deprecating stories coming. Most young indie bands couldn't keep pace with him I'd bet.

There were flat spots: the duets with Furlonger lacked an emotional spark between them; when the male backing singers supported him in doo-wop and dance moves it looked like a musical theatre production more than a concert; and his cover of Little Richard's Rip It Up was pretty bloodless.

But these were incidental over the long arc of a show which kicked off with Chuck Berry's Reelin' and Rockin' and made pit stops for his many time-locked and innocent singalong hits (Living Doll, The Young Ones, Summer Holiday).

In an aside he said he was asked in the 70s if he was past his sell-by date, "then this happened" and he sang his massive hit Devil Woman.

Richard still possesses a remarkable voice which was showcased on the ballads yet still had punch for Berry's 40 Days right at the end.

This was the first show on his Still Reelin' And A-Rockin' tour but if bugs were being ironed out you wouldn't have known. It was professional, entertaining, fun and Sir Cliff - whose first hit was recorded in Abbey Road five years before the Beatles set up residency - delivered like a man half, make that a third, his age.

It wasn't hip'n'cool but it was quality pop entertainment - and fun - from a legend who has a genuine connection with his loyal audience.

Who: Cliff Richard
Where: Vector Arena, Auckland
When: Saturday, January 26

- NZ Herald

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