Stars shine for Sir Bobby Robson
Posted: 19 Feb 2013
Stars shine for Bobby’s
By Michael Hamilton
Picture by Tim Cleasby
A galaxy of stars staged a
spectacular night of music, nostalgia and laughter at the Sage Gateshead to
celebrate what would have been Sir Bobby Robson’s 80th birthday.
There were tears and
laughter aplenty on an emotional rollercoaster of a night as his favourite
performers came together to celebrate his life with song, interview and speech,
as his widow Lady Elsie proudly watched with her sons.
Opera star Russell Watson
closed the three-hour extravaganza with a rousing rendition of Land of Hope and
Glory as a sell-out packed house gave the star-studded cast a standing ovation.
But the penultimate
performance by Gosforth guitar genius Mark Knopfler was perhaps more fitting
for football’s first gentleman.
His barnstorming version of
the rousing Local Hero anthem, which Sir Bobby heard at St. James’ Park just
before kick-off at every home game while Newcastle United boss, caught the back
of the throat.
TV’s Jim Rosenthal and
former Lindisfarne singer Billy Mitchell hosted the epic event, which will
raise thousands for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
South Shields singer Joe
McElderry took to the stage twice to perform Don’t Stop Believing and a Bobby
and Lady Elsie favourite Nessun Dorma. And Russell Watson duetted with classical
singer Faryl Smith on Barcelona – also the name of one of Bobby’s famous other
football clubs, of course.
All the action and
performances, interspersed with archive footage of Bobby from early playing
days at Fulham to 1990 World Cup agony as England manager, were beamed onto a
giant football-shaped video screen centre-stage.
And there was poignant,
never-before-seen interview footage, with him reminiscing about his love of
music and football, filmed before he lost his brave battle with cancer in 2009.
The show’s masterminds
ex-Lindisfarne musician Ray Laidlaw – also back behind his drum-kit for the
night – and director Geoff Wonfor deserve to take a huge bow for the
professionally-slick but never mawkish tribute.
From the world of football
his ex-Toon captain Alan Shearer, current manager Alan Pardew, protégé Andre
Villas Boas, now Spurs boss, Stuart Pearce, and current Magpie players Shola
Ameobi and Steve Harper (showing potential as a comedy double-act) shared
touching and funny Bobby stories and cherished memories.
Tyneside folk sensations the
Unthanks, impersonator Alistair McGowan, TV comedian Paul Whitehouse, local
comic Brendan Healy, soul singer Ruby Turner and the Northern Sinfonia
orchestra completed the glittering line-up.
North East actor Tim Healy
who starred in the 1982 TV movie The World Cup: a Captain’s Tale introduced
sketches from the Alf Ramsey Knew My Grandfather stage play – both told the incredible
tale of how amateur minnows West Auckland FC won the first World Cup in 1909.
Mark Knopfler said: “It
means a lot to me to be part of this celebration of Sir Bobby Robson at the
“Thanks to the commitment
and determination of Sir Bobby and generosity of thousands of people in the
North, the foundation has achieved an enormous amount in the fight against
cancer. May it go from strength to strength.”
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