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Cliff's Summer Holiday

Originally built in Northstead Manor Gardens in the 1930's, Scarborough's Open Air Theatre is the largest in Europe. Constructed on a site known as Hodgson's Slack, it was considered the perfect contour for a natural amphitheatre, with the stage set on an island in the middle of a lake. The perfect ambience is backed by the fact that the 'theatre has enjoyed an amazing history of entertainment including musicals and operas: even one of the UK’s most popular game shows, It’s a Knockout ran every Wednesday for over eleven years.

The last concert to be held at the venue before it closed in 1986 was James Last and His Orchestra. The theatre underwent a major refurbishment and in 2010 was officially opened by The Queen, and has since played host to some of the music industry's biggest stars. On June 29th, one of the biggest legends of them all, Sir Cliff Richard performed for a near 6'500 capacity crowd.

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Cliff opened the show with his new track, It's Going To Be Okay. From that point on he had the audience in the palm of his hand. With a career spanning almost seven decades, the question a seasoned performer must ask is not what do I include, but what do I leave out? The choice – though eclectic – proved how versatile the veteran entertainer is and why he has remained at the top of his game for so long. Late fifties and early sixties top ten hits included Move It, and Travelling Light. Cliff went on to explain that after parting company with The Shadows in the late sixties, lead guitarist, Hank Marvin wrote his first hit as a solo performer, The Day I Met Marie. Into the seventies and eighties he introduced Miss You Nights and Ocean Deep as two of his greatest flops but they were still well remembered and accepted as hits by the audience. The nineties saw successes written by Stock, Aitken & Waterman from the Stronger album: a number of rock n roll numbers from the last two albums including Sweet Little Sixteen and Johnny B. Goode really had a hungry crowd rocking in the aisles.

Cliff spent time paying tribute to the many people he had previously worked with including songwriters such as Terry Britten of Devil Woman fame, and John Farrar who wrote many a number one for Olivia Newton John, and for both her and Cliff a song called Suddenly, where he was joined by his backing singer, Suzy Furlonga for the female lead.

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Over the last two years, Cliff is the first to admit that he has not been without personal problems and despite his faith having been tested, he firmly believed he was never alone: his spiritual guidance was as powerful as ever, none more so than in the words of a tearful ballad penned by the late Robin Gibb, Don't Cry Alone.

Thankfully, all of that is now behind Cliff, and he can be allowed to continue with his life and his music. First class musicians, strong backing vocals, good lighting effects and a crystal clear sound, not to mention an excellent selection of songs made his 2017 open air concert tour a night to remember. If I had a negative comment, it would be a simple one, I wanted more: I felt the show could have been a little longer but nevertheless, the 6'000 plus crowd all appeared to agree on one thing, the Peter Pan of pop gave very good value for money. One only wonders what he has lined up for next year when he celebrates his sixtieth anniversary in showbiz.

Ray Clark 2017