Annette and I met three years ago when her son started Kindy at the same time as my Eleanore. I can't recall how it came up, but we quickly discovered our mutual love and admiration for Cliff Richard. It's so funny, but this doesn't happen to us that often. (We also were amazed to discover a similar mutual love for Howard Jones, but that's another story).
So when Annette called me late last year and told me tickets were going on sale to the Still Reelin' and a Rockin' Concert at the Sydney Opera House, I didn't hesitate.
"My husband has refused point blank to go" she lamented. "Mine has zero interest too" I complained. Having already compared notes on our previous experiences of attending Cliff concerts with our parents, it was settled, we were going together.
And what fun we had...
We ate beforehand at the Opera Bar. A huge ocean liner was moored at the International Passenger Terminal opposite. It was raining but our spirits were not to be dampened. Besides, this prosciutto, provolone and rocket pizza was utterly fabulous, and no we didn't think that just because we hadn't had to cook it ourselves at home.
We were so excited at being out on a school night, sans kids and slightly dressed up with somewhere spectacular to go, we declared it an outstanding success before we even got in to the concert!
First though we faced the memorabilia stand. Do you know how many things there were for sale? About 38 items I counted. We reluctantly passed up the chance for Cliff key rings, shirts, ties, hats and magnets. We agonised over but declined to buy the (not cheap) concert booklet after Annette admitted to having about eight old ones at home gathering dust. But we couldn't pass up the tea towels. That's right. This ageing pop star knows his audience so well. We joined the moshing throngs of ageing fans who were snapping up three tea towels for $20 like their lives depended on it!
And then it was time for the concert to begin. We had good seats. We couldn't see anyone under the age of about sixty, except ourselves and the backup singers. The lights were amazing. The voice superb. It was a staid but super-charged with happiness audience, ecstatic to see Sir Cliff in action, again!
He sang many of our favourites (I'm not going to list them, you'll only scoff!), and many of the favourites from the decades before I was born (he had his first single in 1958 - most of the audience remembered it!). He was funny and self[-deprecating: "This was my second biggest flop" he said in introducing one song. "This song peaked at #101 on the Australian charts in 1982.." "I met a waiter in Paris who wouldn't believe who I was, he thought I was dead.."
Sir Cliff was careful with his moves. I think he did maybe two little jumps and we kind of held our breath when he walked up and down the stairs. He's 72 for crying out loud! But when he sang about being lonely we were there! I felt like I did at twelve, and fifteen and twenty-five and .... he's still great, and maybe not so hip anymore, but a true super singing star.
And now for a bit of history: I got my first Cliff album when I was about twelve. Some friends taped Wired for Sound for me. I knew the words to every song and loved that album for years! It was the kind of music that was pretty hip (well, I thought so) but that my relatively cautious parents had no problem with. I was allowed to play the tape in the car, on the rare occasions that I could get Dad to turn off Classic FM.
Later in high school, and several Cliff albums later, I did work experience for Hodder & Stoughton, who turned out to be the Australian publishers of the numerous books on Cliff. There had recently been a publicity tour. Look what/who I went home with:
This is a photo of a photo of my Aunt (another fan, on the right) and I (that's my head, not sure where my body went, on the left) with my life-sized cardboard cutout of Cliff! He spent a few happy years as the silent but suave member of our family, who attended many family gatherings. We had some great times together.
In a later house move I gave Cliff away. I can't remember who to. I've regretted it many times since. Cliff, if you're out there somewhere, please come back! It's so funny, how we don't talk anymore...
And yes, I went to a later concert in the '90s with my mum. We had fun. Cliff wore lycra for one song with his team of dancers, which was a bit unnerving. Glad to say he'd ditched the lycra and dancers this time around.
Can't wait for next time...