Cliff Richard

The Guardian - G2 - - Live Reviews -

City Hall, New­cas­tle Tour­ing un­til 20 Oc­to­ber

‘That song means a lot to me” says Cliff Richard, after new track Rise Up sees him in­sist­ing, “They’ll never take me down.”

It’s a soli­tary, oblique ref­er­ence to the tele­vised 2014 po­lice raid on his Berk­shire home over strongly de­nied al­leged his­toric child abuse, which ended with dropped in­quiries and a six-fig­ure sum in da­m­ages from the BBC. Oth­er­wise, this 60th an­niver­sary tour re­turns the fo­cus to the squeaky-clean pop phe­nom­e­non with No 1s in five con­sec­u­tive decades, who at 77 is youth­ful enough for dance moves that would put most men his age in trac­tion.

The two-hour per­for­mance traces a mer­cu­rial if at times bonkers tra­jec­tory from Move It’s “Bri­tish Elvis” to later hor­rors such as The Mil­len­nium Prayer. Still, Liv­ing Doll (“I’m gonna lock you up in a trunk”) re­mains one of the cutest-creepi­est hits ever, and a rocky Devil Woman seems to try and re­po­si­tion him as black-me­tal pi­o­neer.

How­ever, a mix­ture of hit – not best – songs and cov­ers from each era makes for a hay­wire setlist. Bright Eyes cues him up for a “Fart Gar­funkel” joke, but blocks the way for miss­ing gems from his own cat­a­logue; he’s push­ing it with two Christ­mas songs (a ghastly Mistle­toe and Wine and the new Mir­a­cle of Love) in Oc­to­ber. His voice de­fies time, but only Miss You Nights delves be­neath a ve­neer of feel­ing.

The new songs bear as much re­la­tion to con­tem­po­rary pop as a fish does to a bi­cy­cle, but there isn’t the late-ca­reer grav­i­tas that did much for Johnny Cash and Tom Jones. The singer’s joke about the au­di­ence (“This is for any­one un­der 78”) rings truer. Still, white­haired women rush the stage for a rock’n’roll med­ley, and 1979’s We Don’t Talk Any­more is so sub­lime he has to restart it (“I got too ex­cited!”). He’s Sir Cliff, he is in­de­struc­tible. Dave Simp­son

In­de­struc­tible ... Cliff Richard

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