Reviewer: Ray Taylor
The Hollies kick off their two- month nationwide tour in the ornate, spacious and gilt-edged surroundings of Harrogate’s Royal Hall – and they treat a sell-out full house of adoring fans to a gilt-edged performance. The Hollies are a British institution with a distinctive hallmark sound that has not wavered during their fifty years of recording and performing around the world. They have recently been honoured by the prestigious American Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and have been bracketed with the Beatles and the Stones as helping to shape the world of Rock and Pop as we know it today.
The current six-piece band include two founder members – Tony Hicks on lead guitar and vocals and Bobby Elliott on drums. It is phenomenal to think that these two originally started playing together in 1961. Two other long time members are Ray Stiles on bass guitar and vocals and Ian Parker on keyboards (and tambourine!). The two more “recent” members (since 2004) are Steve Lauri on guitar and vocals and Peter Howarth as lead vocalist and guitar.
Howarth and Hicks do the majority of the links and introductions which are always interesting and informative. The first half consists of a 13-song set and the second even better at 16! The audience are treated to a fantastic show that includes all the famous hits with some more recent material taken from their last few albums. People regularly get out of their seats and rock in the aisles to Jennifer Eccles, On A Carousel, Just One Look, Stay, I’m Alive, Sorry Suzanne, Bus Stop, Carrie Anne, Gasoline Alley Bread, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress, Stop Stop Stop, He Ain’t Heavy and The Air That I Breathe. These last two are the climactic finale and brilliantly rendered by the band with Howarth giving it his absolute all.
One of the highlights of the evening is the skill demonstrated by Hicks on a variety of guitars that also included a sitar type instrument and a banjo. He is on a par with some of the great rock guitarists such as Harrison and Clapton. To see such a legend perform with such dexterity and artistry is truly amazing and it is a privilege to be there to witness it. From start to finish the whole show is a resounding success and sends the audience away no doubt eager to listen to the songs all over again on their way home. If this show is coming to a venue near you don’t miss it!