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The Hollies – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Reviewer: James Garrington

[rating:5]

The Hollies THSH BirminghamIt is over fifty years since the name ‘The Hollies’ first appeared on the scene – and both Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott have been a part of The Hollies for each one of those fifty years. Originally founded in the mid 1950’s as a duo, the band expanded and first called themselves The Hollies in 1962. Since that time they have been through a number of different line-ups, but are one of the rare breed of bands who have never actually broken up and re-formed. Between them Hicks and Elliott have provided continuity through all the intervening years.

With a current line-up of six with an average age of well over 60, you might expect that The Hollies would start to slow down a little, but this is far from the case. This performance sits towards the end of their 50th anniversary tour, which is visiting some 80 venues at home and abroad over the course of twelve months. Neither are they slowing down their stage performance; this is a high energy production taking the audience on a tour of their music over the years. From the moment they took the stage, The Hollies rocked Symphony Hall. The programme has a mixture of well-known and less well-known material – some songs from their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, and some more recent including a selection from their current album. From their first big international hit “Bus Stop” we hear all of the classic hits: “Carrie Anne”, “On a Carousel”, “The Air That I Breathe” and of course, what they refer to as their theme tune – “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. “Now, Then, Always (Dolphin Days)” is a lovely, relatively new, song by Elliott, looking back at Hicks and Elliott’s pre-Hollies days, and one of the highlights of the concert is a beautiful acoustic version of “Here I Go Again” by Peter Howarth.

You might expect that the audience for this sort of concert to be comprised almost exclusively of people of a “certain age” who remember The Hollies from the 1960s; however, this was far from the case, and the large numbers of people of all ages demonstrates the popularity of the band over the years. Sat near the front were two seven and ten year old girls, who apparently knew all the words, and seemed to be having the time of their lives. By the end of the concert, almost all of the audience were on their feet.

The Hollies have a recent album called “Staying Power”, and as this concert shows, that is something the band has in abundance.

On tour until 24th November 2013

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