Tue 20 Feb 2024
Times change but great pop songs never lose their magic, especially when they’re in the hands of legendary bands like The Hollies. 60 years after forming in their native Manchester, the group remain masters of giving an audience exactly what it wants – a show laden with classic hit singles.
Judging by the amount of people in the audience there’s still a lot of love for the sounds of the sixties and Britpop originators The Hollies certainly know how to deliver the goods. Drummer Bobby Elliott and guitarist Tony Hicks have been there pretty much from the start and it’s clear just how much respect their fellow band mates have for them.
As black and white footage of the group’s glory years was projected onto a big screen, the modern day Hollies line-up launched into King Midas In Reverse and for the next couple of hours we were taken back to an era when the legendary group were almost a permanent fixture in the pop charts.
The concert really took off 15 minutes in with a faithful version of Gasoline Alley Bred and later ended the first set with a stunning rearrangement of Look Through Any Window. Lead singer Peter Howarth clearly relished the occasion. The Hollies mostly cherry picked the hits from their impressive back catalogue but still had the good sense to drop in tracks like Bruce Springsteen’s Sandy (4th July, Asbury Park) which Capt. Bob (Bobby Elliott) introduced by recalling how the band met the song’s writer backstage at a Hollies’ gig at New York’s Bottom Line club. Elliott also told us about a previous Hollies gig at The Regent when during the soundcheck a neon sign over the road at the Poplar Fish Bar was found to be interfering with the electrics on stage.
Another highlight was an incredible introduction to Stop Stop Stop played by Tony Hicks on his sitar guitar in banjo mode. At that point it was best song of the set but we’d yet to hear the band’s two signature singles – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother and The Air That I Breathe.
How refreshing that The Hollies dispensed with an encore, simply doing those two classics towards the end of the concert before closing with Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress. I do like the cut of their jib and would love to see other acts follow suit.
The Hollies are a national treasure and concert-goers lucky enough to have seen them certainly struck gold. As hundreds of satisfied customers left the theatre they were faced with torrential rain but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. I feel sure they’ll all be back for more when The Hollies return. That could be as early as next year. Count me in.