Legendary British singer Sir Cliff Richard outdid himself and completely rocked an almost packed Vector Arena in Auckland last night.
Any suggestion that the 72-year-old might be succumbing to age was quickly squashed by a powerhouse vocal and youthful stage performance, with energy equalling that of some of his much younger entourage who appeared to be still in their 20s.
Unfortunately, when the veteran singer performed at last year's Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, he and several other acts like host Gary Barlow of Take That and singer Jessie J seemed to have been negatively affected by what appeared to be technical sound hitches, which ironed out as more leading acts completed their repertoires.
Vector audience member and long-time fan Wayne Smith who had seen the London show on television said he had considered giving last night's show a miss.
"I wasn't going to come because I thought he might have been past it but my mate Linda Airey encouraged me to come along and I'm so glad I did because now I have to eat my own words."
On entering the stage sharply dressed as usual in black glittering jacket, loosely tied black tie, white shirt, leather pants and basketball pumps to a thunderous applause and cheers, Richard launched straight into his and original band the Shadows early 1960s rock n' roll number, My Kinda Life.
He then moved up a decade to sing Dreamin.
Before moving on to his first number one hit Living Doll, Richard quipped that media had made comments about his longevity even back as early as the late 60s and 70s and later, before singing his 1970s rock hit Devil Woman which on its release at the time, took fans and media by surprise with its dark theme not expected from the devout Christian, he said:
"When they say Cliff Richard must be dead and they ask if I'm past my sell by date then this happens (Devil Woman)."
He sang two of his stalwart fan favourites but songs that both flopped badly in the charts worldwide, Miss You Nights and Ocean Deep, with full vocal and instrumental backing, making these ballads a big hit with the audience.
Richard continued to sing songs from his various early albums, as well as recent ones like the country-sounding Something's Going On, the soul-sounding Soulicious that he recorded with United States singers like Freda Payne, Percy Sledge and Marilyn McCoo.
He sang numbers from other earlier albums as well as well known covers like Poetry in Motion, Sealed with a Kiss and Dream Lover.
After two encores and two standing ovations, the audience stayed on its feet for rock n' roll numbers like Easily Fall in Love, High Class Baby, Dynamite and Do You Wanna Dance.
Richard's audience usually consists of all ages from early teens to the 70 and 80 age groups and last night was no exception.
Canadian fan Norah Menzies, now in her early 60s, who spends three months of the year in New Zealand, was glad to catch the Cliff Richard show this time.
"I've been a fan of his since I was 12," she says.
Having always given New Zealand generous servings of his attention, Richard last performed here only three years ago with the Shadows and doesn't seem to be looking anything like slowing down.
Two more New Zealand shows are scheduled; at the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on Monday, January 28 and the CBS Arena in Christchurch on Thursday, January 31, before Richard starts the Australian leg of his tour in Brisbane February 2 and 3 and then on to Asia later in the month.
- © Fairfax NZ News