Cliff Richard returns to ‘Congratulations’ to celebrate 80 years at the Royal Albert Hall

He was the first of the bad boys of British rock’n’roll in the 1950s, a washed-up pop idol in the 1960s and, since 1995, distinguished national treasure as Sir by Queen Elizabeth. And these days he takes a deep breath in the Royal Albert Hall, on account of the finally consummated ‘The great 80 tour’, a British itinerary with which he celebrates his most vertiginous birthday (although a few days ago he already turned 81). “Here we are, all together, we are the survivors,” Cliff Richard noted this Sunday. in their reunion, delayed a year by the pandemic.

There are four nights in the huge room, which also blows out its candles (for the 150th anniversary), filled with an audience that grew up with him and that has made him a long-distance hit parade ace; unique case of artist with UK Top 5 albums spanning eight decades. “And it’s all your fault! & Rdquor ;, he joked. The most recent is’ Music & mldr; the air that I breathe ‘, with which a year ago he premiered the who knows if happy 20s and of which he sang a couple of songs.

On Abbey Road at 17

Consummate ‘entertainer’, done a brush, changing tails and sequin jackets up to three times, and with his voice in very good condition, Cliff Richard delighted by first going back to his rock-and-roll beginnings. There it was ‘Move it’ (1958), the song by Ian Samwell that, as he explained, marked his debut in a recording studio, that of Abbey Road, at the age of 17, backed by a certain group called The Drifters (futuros The Shadows). The audience, ready to ruffle (just a little) to the beat of ‘Do you wanna dance’, ‘Gee whiz it’s you’ and ‘Please don’t tease’, with their noble sounds of electric guitar: Richard recalled that the first Fender Stratocaster to enter the UK It was the salmon pink model that he gave to his band colleague, the Hank Marvin.

Despite the triumphant aura, it seems that there is an episode that he has not finished digesting yet: his 2nd place, with ‘Congratulations’, in Eurovision-68, behind Massiel’s ‘La, la, la’. In his recent autobiography, ‘The Dreamer’, he qualifies the result of “Rigged by General Franco & rdquor; to “make Spain a great tourist destination & rdquor ;, adding:“ I guess it worked! & rdquor; (and without accusing any of the countries that would have entered the game: there are no bribes without bribes). Well, there he was, back on the same stage as that night 53 years ago, proclaiming once again the wish that the whole world share his happiness in that chorus past the historic BBC circuit (weddings, baptisms and communions).

After its “darkest hours & rdquor;

The Eurovision classic culminated an enjoyable round of sixties milestones, with ‘Living doll’, ‘Summer holiday’ and the prematurely melancholic ‘The young ones’ (which the Mustangs turned into ‘The young ones’). It should be noted that, in those days, in 1963, Richard and The Shadows recorded an album in Barcelona, ​​’When in Spain & mldr;’, and they were seen in Sitges. The other pole of the repertoire was the trail of successes that he sowed on horseback from the late 70s and 80s: from the rocker ‘Devil woman’ to ‘Where do we go from here’, wrapped in synthesizer sounds of the time, and passing by ‘We don’t talk anymore’, pelotazo disco-pop del notable álbum ‘Rock’n’roll juvenile’ (1979).

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To close, he addressed the audience with a piece, ‘Golden’, which he recorded for his 75th birthday and in which he praises his long loyalties. Perhaps his most bitter episode floated in the subtext: the accusation, in 2014, of abusing a minor, from which he was exonerated and which resulted in a fine to the BBC (2.2 million euros) for violation of his private life (by broadcasting images of the search of his house from a helicopter). “A nightmare & rdquor ;, points out in his book, from which he came out thanks to his Christian faith, a lifeline in his“ darkest hours & rdquor ;.

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