Cliff Richard wows crowd during 'summer holiday' in Israel

Iconic British singer swings his hips and belts out some classics during an impressive show at Tel Aviv's Nokia Arena.

July 12, 2013 10:19
3 minute read.
Sir Cliff Richard, performing in Tel Aviv, July 11, 2013

Sir Cliff Richard, performing in Tel Aviv370. (photo credit: Yoni Cohen)

At 28 years old I was quite possibly the youngest person in the audience on Thursday night when iconic British rocker Sir Cliff Richard took to the stage at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena, but I was jealous of the way the 72-year-old shook his hips for the duration of the impressive show.

After growing up watching his Summer Holiday (1963) film countless times, it was an honor to see the singer knock out hit after hit from his long and illustrious career.

Richard seemed genuinely excited to be performing in Israel. He addressed the crowd with a heartfelt “Shalom, Tel Aviv.” He reminded them how it was exactly 25 years ago since he last performed in Israel and vowed to try not to leave it so long till the next performance.

Wearing a slick black jacket complete with hundreds of sparkly sequins and tight black pants, Richard spent most of the first half performing some of his biggest hits. Nearly all the songs included his signature dance moves and he didn’t seem to tire and wasn’t out of breath when he told funny anecdotes between each number.

Richard engaged a lot with his loving audience and told stories of how he likes to travel and enjoys it even more when he goes to parts of the world where people don’t recognize him. Growing up in the UK, I just assumed that Cliff Richard was a household name throughout the world, so I was surprised to discover that he was almost unknown in places such as the US.

Richard was joined on stage by a modest band and three backup singers, who doubled as dancers for many of the numbers. The three very talented singers danced along to some very choreographed moves and for many of the tracks the two male singers stood either side of Richard and the three looked like a very slick boy band, albeit from the ’50s.

The first song to really get the crowd clapping and singing along was “Living Doll,” during which Richard danced and swayed as if he was in his 20s. There was less dancing involved during “Summer Holiday” and “Bachelor Boy,” but he really gave it his all throughout both of those numbers, which are very dear to my heart because they are both from the film Summer Holiday.

The highlights of the first half were definitely “Lucky Lips” and “Congratulations,” which had everyone singing along.

In true diva fashion, Richard came back after the interval in a new outfit that consisted of a bright red jacket, cool Conversestyle sneakers and skinny jeans so tight that even the boys of One Direction would be jealous. He treads a fine line between looking ridiculous for his age and growing old gracefully but makes it work because he doesn’t take himself too seriously and just does what feels comfortable for him.

In between more anecdotes, Richard brought the house down with a rendition of “Hand Jive” joined by his two trusted male singers/dancers. His performance of “The Young Ones” was just as impressive as he effortlessly swung his hips and ran around the stage like an excitable teenager.

The standing ovation he received before the encore was a testament to how well-loved the iconic singer is. What was even more impressive is how he managed to keep the crowd, most of whom were similar in age to him, on their feet and dancing along to the last three numbers.a Richard vowed to return to Israel because he loves performing here so much. He first performed here 50 years ago and then again 25 years later. Even if it takes him another 25 years until the next show, I have no doubt that he will be moving and swaying around the stage, even if he needs a walker to help him.

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