It’s easy to forget how often the Philharmonic stages events of real class and reach. Mr Jimmy Cliff, for example, is responsible for many timeless hits that will be familiar to most, even if their brilliance is dulled by familiarity.
And the Philharmonic had him playing there last week. Mr Jimmy Cliff. Many Rivers to Cross. You Can Get It If You Really Want. The Harder They Come, The Harder They Fall. And Hakuna Matata – that one last one really caught us out.
The audience looked like they were expecting it and responded to a set of crowd-pleasers, with an extended encore of Wonderful World, Beautiful People getting the largely white audience grooving in the aisles – those that weren’t discouraged from doing so by overzealous security staff – like the uncoolest people in the world.
The presence of a support act rarely gets the blood flowing but local singer songwriter Ogo had really complemented proceedings – and served as a great appetiser for the great man.
Cliff was energetic, enthusiastic, warm. Basically he looked like the happiest man in the world and it was a pleasure just to be in his company. A well-drilled, passionate backing group helped too – helping to get a willing crowd on their feet.
There are detours to a retitled Vietnam – Afghanistan – and a wonderful acapella version of Rivers of Babylon. Cliff speaks a few platitudes that might sounds trite if coming from someone else, but his energy and clear enjoyment in singing and entertaining override everything else.
But the rousing reggae tunes that Cliff is know for were what will most will remember the night for. To see a legend of reggae tearing it up, a sea of arms raised in supplication in the Phil, made for a special night indeed.