Cliff Richard is to England what Elvis Presley was to The United States. He began his career in the late fifties as the frontman for the rocking Shadows. A decade later they went their separate ways and Richard would go on to a stellar career as a solo artist. The Shadows would continue on and release 23 albums and close to sixty singles.
Richard’s stats in The United Kingdom are truly staggering. He has amassed 14 number one hits and has had 125 singles reach the top forty. While he had moderate commercial success in the U.S., worldwide he has sold 250 million albums.
In the fall of 2009, to celebrate their 50th anniversary, Cliff Richard and The Shadows reunited for what they are calling The Final Reunion Tour which will continue into 2010. The Final Reunion Tour DVD is a chronicle of that reunion. While it was filmed over a three-night stand at London's O2 Arena, the recording has an overall feel of one continuous performance as the forty song, two-hour-plus set flows by quickly.
They may be past retirement age but Cliff Richard and The Shadows can still rock as the concert is energetic from beginning to end. They wisely stick to songs they recorded together and eschew Richard’s later solo pop material. Number one hits such as “Living Doll,” “Traveling Light,” “Please Don’t Tease,” “I Love You,” “The Young Ones,” “Bachelor Boy,” and “Summer Holiday” return to the stage with a freshness and modern interpretations.
Richard’s voice is still supple, clear, and formidable, having lost little range despite the passage of time. And he can still hit the high notes with ease. After a half century of performing he makes it all look so effortless.
Original Shadows guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch are both present. Marvin, in particular, is one of the most influential guitarists in British music in history and he demonstrates his skill on song after song. His tone is excellent and each note has an individual clarity and precision. Both men also provide the vocal harmonies. Drummer Brian Bennett, whose playing provides a solid underpinning for the overall sound, is the newest Shadow as he joined in 1961 replacing Tony Meehan (who died in 2005). Only bassist Jet Harris is missing.
It seems some thought went into the recording process as both the sound and visuals on the DVD are excellent. There is also a thirty-minute, behind-the-scenes documentary which provides a number of reflective interviews with the participants.
The Final Reunion tour is a rare chance to see one of the legendary groups of rock ‘n’ roll history in performance. It should appeal to their millions of fans who want to remember and maybe earn the group a few new ones on this side of the pond as well.