It wasn’t called the Showgrounds for nothing. The site may now be occupied by the Marquee music bonanza for a few weeks in the year, but last night was definitely ‘SHOW’ time for Cliff Richard fans and there was a whole lot of Just… Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll going on.

Let us get one thing out of the way early on. I like everything from Horslips to Jerry Lee Lewis, Seamus Begley to Adele, with plenty of Talos and Bruno Mars thrown in, so office sniggers and online whisperings don’t sway me one whit. As Robbie Williams sings: Let me entertain you.

So when a much-maligned, and much-loved — in equal measure — singer such as Cliff Richard fulfilled that criteria last night in the shadow of what will eventually be the new-look Páirc Uí Chaoimh... well, it was game ball for me. The atmosphere was as good as any Munster final, a hurling ‘seniors’ one anyway.

The superstar may still feel “tarnished” after a two-year police investigation against him was dropped, but the 70 something-year-old in denims, whose 102nd album is hitting the sweet spots all over the world, was in sparkling form from the get-go, after being teed-up nicely by his support act, Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro.

Joan McAllister, Vancouver; Sarah James, Suffolk; Carolyn, LA; Catherine Cheung, LA; and Jan Eastaugh, Ottawa; before going to see Cliff Richard at Live At The Marquee, Cork.
Joan McAllister, Vancouver; Sarah James, Suffolk; Carolyn, LA; Catherine Cheung, LA; and Jan Eastaugh, Ottawa; before going to see Cliff Richard at Live At The Marquee, Cork.

On a night which saw him going back, way back, to the birth of rock ‘n roll, to celebrate his latest album, released on November 11, he rattled off hits such as ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘She’s Got It’, ‘Devil Woman’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, and a brand new track titled ‘It’s Better To Dream’, interspersed with classics such as ‘Living Doll’ and ‘The Young Ones’ (dedicated to “anyone under 76”).

And the poignancy of dedicating 1962’s ‘The Next Time’ to his late friend Cilla Black wasn’t lost. For Cliff, and everyone else at the venue, the first night of a tour, which finishes on July 2 in London, was one of memories. With diehards roaring him on, he built the atmosphere during a music marathon which included ‘(It’s Gonna Be) Okay’, ‘Travelling Light’, Stronger Than That’, ‘Wired For Sound’, ‘Miss You Nights’, ‘Suddenly’, and ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’.

The show had an emotional edge as well, with his latest single, ‘Golden’, effectively a thank you to fans for standing by him. Office sniggers aside, there are few more surreal sights in pop than that of a seventy-something in bleached, oh so tight, jeans tearing through Jerry Lee Lewis numbers surrounded by unburdened fans.

Stephanie Welch from Bristol before the concert.
Stephanie Welch from Bristol before the concert.

Summer Holiday time came early on Leeside last night... no more worries for me or you (or Cliff), for the time being.

My hot hips are well oiled after a night on the dance floor, now where do I get bleached denims?

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