Bruce Forsyth dances onto the Lowry stage to the kind of applause that most entertainers would kill to leave to. It is rare to feel such genuine warmth and affection from a crowd. This is why he is called a national treasure and why the public campaigned so hard to honour him with a knighthood, effort that does not go unacknowledged by the recent Sir Bruce during the course of the evening.
The show was the first of a short three night tour, which goes to Birmingham and then London’s Royal Albert Hall, a venue that still inspires a sense of awe in Bruce as he admits to having nerves about the forthcoming performance.
Those nerves, if there at The Lowry, come out in the energy of his performance. After more than 70 years at the top of his game, Bruce has nothing to prove. He doesn’t need to work for the audience’s approval, and yet he does, holding the stage for two-and-a-half-hours. He is a master at work.
Simply titled, Bruce Forsyth, it’s not clear exactly what the show will entail. In one sense the audience knows what to expect and in another it doesn’t. I thought we would be in for a trip down memory lane, with Bruce sharing stories of his life and how he started off in show business. There is some of that, but foremost he is an entertainer and that is what he does.
It is a night of variety. Bruce tells jokes, sings with a ten-piece band, dances, plays the piano, banters with the audience, and shares a few stories of some of the greats he’s worked with, like Sammy Davis Jnr and Norman Wisdom. Audience participation, that can so often fall flat, create some of the best bits – particularly the four men he tap-dances with on stage. Then, at the end of the evening, the Strictly Come Dancing host sends his band home and takes questions from the audience, creating the atmosphere of what feels like an intimate chat.
It is clear that this seasoned entertainer still gets a buzz from a live audience and his real talent is feeding this energy back into the crowd. It is when Sir Bruce interacts with other people that he shines his brightest and when we realise why he is where he is - still on prime-time TV at 85.