From the first day I could talk and walk, I can remember having a love for Rolf Harris. The man who would often enough entertain me and millions of others over the years with his many television appearances throughout the eighties, right through to the present day. This was the man who inspired many, myself included. Inspired me through his art and more than anything his personality. Rolf's "art" can be taken and viewed in many forms, from both elitist and popular angles. He can be the Rolf Harris the "Artist" where he can be recognised through his paintings and caricatures, and on the flip side he can also be Rolf the "Entertainer", the man who can sing a great tune comically, upbeat and serious. But in between all of this holds something unique. Rolf the Gentleman. A man who holds great gratitude for his hundreds and thousands of fans. This became more and more evident as he thanked the packed out audience of his "one off" show at The Bristol Hippodrome on Saturday 18th May of this year. As he walked onto the stage to a standing ovation and once the applause eventually faded, he said "Thank you for your support, I'll always wear it." Amidst the current allegations made against him.
Both mine and my fiancees emotions stirred as Rolf entered the stage, This was the third time I had seen Rolf do a live show. The first time nineteen years ago at The York Barbican, the second at an open air event in South Shields about eight years ago and then to find on my birthday, back in March this year, that my fiancee had bought us both tickets to see my one of few childhood heroes was just emotional. I didn't even know anything about the one off gig at the Hippodrome, so you can just imagine my excitement at the sheer thought of seeing the man himself, for a third time.
At the venue, Rolf Harris never failed to entertain. A man with great energy, gusto and passion at the amazing age of eighty three, is a lot to top for any performer and at any age. Rolf performed many of his classics. "Two Little Boys", "Sun Arise", two versions of "Tie me Kangaroo down sport" and one of my all time faves "The Court of King Cararticus" To which on many occasions, the audience would join in. Rolf showed a talent that never ages, and even if his talent did age, it could only be compared to that of a fine Australian red, that matures over a long time and beholds both magic and endless quality.
After several anecdotes that centred throughout his career, one of which was of his friendship with The Beatles record producer, George Martin. Rolf stirred amazement from his audience, when he donned his painting overalls and paint brush and painted "Ayers Rock", all from pure memory. This linked Rolf to sing another one of my fave Rolf tracks, "Raining on the Rock".
Needless to say though, after a stand out two hours and thirty minutes including twenty minute interval, Rolf proved that he was made of stern and strong stuff. His add libbing was brilliant, and the banta he had with the audience was second to none.
One amazing quote that that will always stay with me from the show, is this one, which was sent as part of a letter of support to Rolf "It's not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."
And dance he did.