The night Cliff proved he can still groove at 74: JANE FRYER watches as Sir Cliff Richard woos the faithful 

 

 

The Birmingham Symphony Hall was a sea of salmon pink upholstery, grey perms and the odd shiny pate last night as Sir Cliff Richard performed for the first time in the UK in over a year

The Birmingham Symphony Hall was a sea of salmon pink upholstery, grey perms and the odd shiny pate last night.

But despite walking sticks, bunions and some alarmingly high blood pressure, no one could stay in their seat.

Every five minutes they were waving, cheering, singing along and giving yet another standing ovation to their hero, Sir Cliff Richard.

When he strode onto the stage in a sparkling silver jacket, inch thick make-up and glittery black shoes at exactly 7.45pm they went crazy.

And they continued to go mad all night. So, a nice bit of fancy foot work? They all went ‘WOOOO!’ A wiggle of his teeny hips? ‘Aaaaaah!’. And when he negotiated the stairs at the back of the stage without mishap, they were jiggling in their seats in support.

It was a poignant night and everyone knew it – Cliff’s first UK stage performance since allegations of historic sex abuse emerged over a year ago. 

He has always strenuously denied any wrongdoing and earlier this month it was reported that one of the three actions against him had been dropped for lack of evidence. The others look likely to go the same way.

If he worried his fans would abandon him in his hour of need, he needn’t have bothered. In their eyes, his reputation is as unblemished as his age-defying brow.

‘It is all utter rubbish. No one anywhere believes it,’ says Joy Davidson, 73, from Coventry.

Tickets for the entire tour sold out in hours. Sandra Lindley, a very excitable 67-year-old from Arizona, is going to every gig. ‘I had to show him that I cared,’ she says.

Before he even came on stage, a small group of ladies held hands and said a quick prayer: ‘For Cliff. To give him strength and to thank him for all he’s done for us.’

If Sir Cliff worried his fans would abandon him in his hour of need, he needn’t have bothered. In their eyes, his reputation is as unblemished as his age-defying brow.

If Sir Cliff worried his fans would abandon him in his hour of need, he needn’t have bothered. In their eyes, his reputation is as unblemished as his age-defying brow.

It’s all rather moving. He chats to his audience. Laughs with them. Jumps about a lot. Thanks them for coming. Occasionally tells them they should probably sit down for a bit
 

It’s all rather moving. He chats to his audience. Laughs with them. Jumps about a lot. Thanks them for coming. Occasionally tells them they should probably sit down for a bit

It must have worked because, other than the occasional wobble, his voice really isn’t bad. 

His silver jacket sparkles and as he sings Golden – a song written to thank his fans for their loyalty – he clenches his fists in passion and his hair gleams like an autumn conker.

 ‘You’ve always been right there, with arms wide open,’ he blasts out. ‘You gave me life.’

If Cliff isn’t looking quite as youthful as he does on his 2016 calendar, he’d be forgiven.

He’s had a shocking 13 months.

Earlier this year, he started his fight back. This tour, a Mediterranean Cruise tour next summer, a rather alarming album of rock ‘n’ roll standards he recorded in Tennessee, and a greatest hits album, 75 At 75, his 43rd Top Ten album.

‘It’s number four in the charts!’ he yells, to more mad applause.

It’s all rather moving. He chats to his audience. Laughs with them. Jumps about a lot. Thanks them for coming. Occasionally tells them they should probably sit down for a bit.

 

This is a man who has sold more than 250million records in a 60-year career. He knows his audience

‘He’s fantastic. He’s brilliant,’ says Chris Simmonds, 69, who once met him at a party when she was 18 and was so star struck she couldn’t think of anything to say. ‘He is the Peter Pan of pop. He still dances around the stage like a 17-year-old.’

‘I love you Cliff,’ shouts someone when he pops out in the second half. ‘I know,’ he replies, happily, beaming like a little boy with a new train.

This is a man who has sold more than 250million records in a 60-year career. He knows his audience. And they know every word to his songs and don’t give a damn if he sounds a bit flat from time to time.

At the end, a lady in a paisley kaftan sums it up: ‘We went in aged 68 and come out 15 again.’

A Cliff concert isn’t very rock and roll. There’s no knicker-throwing and no drunken swearing. And although people are dancing in the aisles, the silver-haired mosh pit is very gentile. But it’s good for the soul.

Yes, the 74-year-old Peter Pan of pop has been maligned, but last night he rose again. A bit like Jesus. 

Or a septuagenarian with slightly stiff hips and an astonishingly thick head of shiny chestnut hair.

Cliff's fans know every word to his songs and don’t give a damn if he sounds a bit flat from time to time

Cliff's fans know every word to his songs and don’t give a damn if he sounds a bit flat from time to time

A Cliff concert isn’t very rock and roll. There’s no knicker-throwing and no drunken swearing. And although people are dancing in the aisles, the silver-haired mosh pit is very gentile. But it’s good for the soul

A Cliff concert isn’t very rock and roll. There’s no knicker-throwing and no drunken swearing. And although people are dancing in the aisles, the silver-haired mosh pit is very gentile. But it’s good for the soul