Cliff Richard and the Shadows, O2 Arena, London
People forget we were a rock'n'roll band and we still are," Cliff maintains. Tonight, it appears it's only rock'n'roll, and, well, Sir Cliff likes it.
Harry Roger Webb has been mocked in some quarters (many quarters) for a considerable time and for many reasons – his Christianity, his fashion choices, his sexual ambivalence, his hanging around Wimbledon like a bad drop volley, his absurd video to "Devil Woman" – but the O2 Arena has nothing but respect for the Peter Pan of Pop, and Hank Marvin's immaculate, crisp- sounding Shadows lend the trim 68-year-old showman a respectability he hasn't achieved for aeons.
The generous 41-song set is devoted to early Cliff and the Shadows. They tear through "We Say Yeah", "A Girl Like You", "I'm the Lonely One" and the unfortunately titled "Willie and the Hand Jive". We're not treated, thank the sweet lord, to the creepy turgidity of "Mistletoe and Wine" and the "Millennium Prayer" – the sort of ditties they'd lull you with in "The Wicker Man" before constructing a pagan structure and burning your petrified flesh – or the soft Seventies rock of "Devil Woman", "Wired for Sound" or "We Don't Talk Anymore", all perfectly serviceable pop camembert. In fact, it's an irony-free night of rock'n'roll tunes that harks back to Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. Cliff, of course, started his career being compared to Elvis Presley, he was sold as "dangerous", he looked like a singing Dirk Bogarde and sang snarling rock songs like "Mean Streak". However, Cliff's fifth single, the slightly disturbing "Living Doll" ("I'm gonna lock her up in a trunk/ So no big hunk can steal her away from me") heralded a "softer" side to Cliff, a side he's clung on to and exploited for nearly 50 years.
This tour, the final one for Cliff and his Shadows, appears to be a worthy attempt to reclaim the rockabilly in Richard. The audience are restrained, enthusiastic but save for a group who don sailor hats for "Sea Cruise" not evangelical or obsessed. Oh my lord, I've been converted. Even the terrifically annoying "Summer Holiday" is bearable as is the horribly prescient "Bachelor Boy".
Cliff's committed too many crimes to music to completely convert you, but this simple rock'n'roll show is blessed by the presence of the Shadows (Marvin, Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett) and the absence of all the usual nonsense associated with Richard. He's forgiven.
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
- 1 Man and woman arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder victim of Woolwich machete attack, named as Drummer Lee Rigby
- 2 'Sickening, deluded and unforgivable': Horrific attack brings terror to London’s streets
- 3 Grace Dent: I’m not sure how these people can avoid being called ‘bigots’. And the more ‘civilised’, the worse they are
- 4 Woolwich murder: They killed, then they performed - these men should be starved of our attention
- 5 Woolwich attack: The EDL will seek to exploit this evil crime for their own evil ends
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.