A rare live appearance from perhaps the world’s best known Australian at the Royal Festival Hall on Friday. Rolf Harris and his band (bass, guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion and guest digaradoo) entertained us for a couple of hours starting with the perennial and catchy ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport’ and ending on an encore with Leadbelly’s folk song ‘Goodnight, Irene’. He also found time to paint Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) with grey cloudy sky, sun shining on the rock, and seagrass – his technique looks slipshod, but that is deceptive. After all this is a man who painted The Queen.
Of course, ‘Two Little Boys’, ‘Jake the Peg’, and ‘Sun Arise’ featured alongside songs of a more serious bent (‘Raining on the Rock’ and the superb ‘Jimmy My Boy’), and lighter fare such as ‘The Kiwi Can Never Fly’ and ‘The Court of King Caractacus’. The nadir for me was Rolf’s version of ‘Stairway To Heaven’ (with wobbleboard). I just don’t get it, but each to their own. Thanks to appearances on The Word and at Glastonbury it is a fixed part of his live set.
Bad jokes galore appeared throughout this show, but Harris is a pro who is best when he is ‘on’ with his audience, and he had plenty of devoted fans watching in the RFH. With a backdrop of a cartoon kangaroo sporting Rolf’s head, this was a fun and undemanding confection, enjoyable and relaxing.