25 Mar 2019
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Gig Review: The Hollies @ Trafalgar Centre, Nelson - 27/02/2019

27 Feb 2019 // A review by Jacquie Walters

The Hollies brought the crowd to their feet at Nelson’s Trafalgar Centre for not one, but two standing ovations – a fitting climax to an evening that delivered on expectations for the predominantly 60 years old plus audience.


The Hollies’ concert was a nostalgia trip from the start evoking memories of the band’s heyday in the 1960's and 1970's.


Long-standing band members lead guitarist and vocalist Tony Hicks and drummer Bob Elliott have been touring every year for 55 years, according to current lead vocalist Peter Howarth, which must surely make them two of the hardest working touring musicians on the planet. It hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm for the music, however, and the integrity of the delivery of all the band’s hits was noticeable and much appreciated.


Newer band member Howarth, who joined the band in 2004, did an outstanding job throughout and the band’s trademark harmonies were great. The group also looked the part, dressed in matching white shirts, black ties and black trousers for the first half and open shirts over black for the second half.


The audience were clapping along from the earliest opportunity, enjoying Sorry Suzanne and Jennifer Eccles, On A Carousel and Magic Woman Touch in particular.


The band also ventured into newer material including Weakness from their 2006 album Staying Power which featured soaring vocals from Howarth, and a song called Priceless written by Howarth and Elliott.


The second half belonged to the 1960's, however, with a particularly lovely rendition of Bus Stop - The Hollies’ first really big international hit. The band’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) which they recorded in 1975 was gorgeous, as was the anecdote told by drummer Bob Elliott about meeting the young Springsteen at the time.


Too Young To Be Married was poignantly delivered by Tony Hicks and given the gusto with which the audience members around me were singing along I wondered how many of them had had just the experience described in the song in the late 60's and early 70's.


Carrie Anne really got the audience singing and Stop, Stop, Stop was a crowd pleaser.


However, the evening belonged to Peter Howarth and his stunning rendition of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. This remarkable song, described by Howarth as The Hollies’ anthem, was devastatingly moving and brought everyone to their feet.


The band themselves seemed visibly touched by the audience’s standing ovation and responded with a magical delivery of The Air That I Breathe which again brought everyone to their feet. This was where they stayed to enjoy the final number, dance-along favourite Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress), remaining standing to acknowledge the band with prolonged applause.


Howarth said that as long as audiences keep responding like the Nelson audience did they will keep touring and performing. If tonight is anything to go by, The Hollies will be continuing to be hardworking touring musicians for some time to come.



Photos thanks to Adam Binns Photography.

 

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