Aah Rolf. Everyone’s favourite antipodean artist/musician/TV presenter/wobble-boarder. In a sweet showcase of this old-school all-rounder's many legendary talents, Rolf Harris Live shows exactly why this figure is regarded with such fondness by generations.
Greeted like an old friend by the audience, Rolf (and his 6-strong band) enters the instrument-strewn stage to rapturous applause, immediately jumping into a sing-along version of "Tie Me Kangaroo Down." This is followed by Rolf’s memories of writing the song, then renditions of its Russian, Japanese, Spanish, German and Dutch translations. This formula is repeated for each of Rolf’s hits, with some painting and a Christmas song thrown in for good measure.
What keeps this fairly simple show afloat is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Rolf. A relaxed and charismatic host with interesting, entertaining tales, the audience are rapt from the outset. In a culture dominated by The Only Way is Essex, X Factor and Heat magazine, it is wildly refreshing (and almost revolutionary) to be entertained by a figure whose celebrity has endured 60 years, due to talent, energy and spirit.
Sometimes whilst he’s painting (or even, mid-song) Rolf tells dad jokes. He delights in puns and punch-lines. He doesn’t like to be rude, crude or lewd, nor does he like trawling the internet for jokes. He gets away with a couple of less PC ‘Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman-esque’ gags, partly because he knows he’s being a bit naughty and partly because he takes such joy and pride in the story-telling. He’s a skilful raconteur, who side-steps any potential finger-wagging with charm, warmth and self-awareness.
Supported by an adoring and ever-ready band, Rolf Harris Live is the perfect remedy to disposable, perma-tanned, karaoke culture. My accomplice said that she could have listened to the now 82 year old Rolf’s stories (and soothing tones) all night. An uplifting evening’s entertainment.
- Sara Cocker