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The Young One In Scarborough

The Scarborough Open Air Theatre was originally built in Northstead Manor Gardens in 1932, but closed in 1986. 2008 saw a major £3.5 million renovation scheme transform the venue into what we have today, a major player staging a mixed entertainment programme including music concerts, opera productions and community events, which was completed in 2010.

On June 26th, SOAT played host to one of the UK's most successful recording artists, Sir Cliff Richard, on his Diamond Encore Tour.

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When you've had a career spanning seven decades, spending most of it in the charts, it begs the question, which of your hits do you choose? Or maybe, which do you leave out? In a show structured around the decades, Cliff virtually ran on to stage and started at the beginning – the birth of rock n' roll: opening his concert with a hit from the King himself, Elvis's Heartbreak Hotel, he then followed with Wake Up Little Suzie by The Everley's. Cliff explained why he chose those tracks and what they led him into, which was the 1958 rock classic, Move It.

From that point on, the hits simply kept coming in a chronological order. The 60's saw Living Doll, Summer Holiday and The Young Ones. Seventies hits included Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes, Miss You Nights and Devil Woman. He approached the eighties on full steam with Wired For Sound. Cliff eventually worked his way up to his 100th single, The Best Of Me, before concluding the show with hits from his current album, Rise Up.

After one and a half hours of dancing and singing like a teenager, which is no mean feat for a man who turns seventy-nine in October of this year, he still had to return to the stage for more. In his encore he paid homage to Alan Tarney for writing the biggest number one of his career, We Don't Talk Anymore.

The venue was a perfect setting for a summer evening that felt more like late autumn. A dazzling light display, amusing stories to back up the songs, strong vocals – both main and harmony – and an extremely tight band delivered a stunning performance to a packed capacity house of 8'000 people, in a show that pretty much confirmed why Cliff has been around so long. From what I can see, the man shows no signs of retiring; and when you're still at the top of your game, giving your audience what they want, why should you?

Ray Clark - July 2019