Gig review: The Hollies

The Hollies. Picture: contributed
The Hollies. Picture: contributed
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BACK in the day, the Hollies were up there and mentioned in the same breath as the Beatles and the Stones and this show, which showcases last year’s The Hollies Live Hits: We Got The Tunes, gives some hints why.

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The band line-up has varied over the years, but the quality of that back catalogue has not, and the Hollies chug through a fair chunk of it in an entertaining two-hour show.

The set list covers a sweep of the decades, with a smattering of more recent material and incorporating some touches from frontman Peter Howarth, including a rather nice solo take on Bruce Springsteen’s, Sandy.

The emphasis is naturally on those hits of the 60s and 70s, with slices of pop perfection like Just One Look, I’m Alive, Bus Stop and Carrie Anne getting the crowd going. Fittingly for a pop history masterclass, we are treated to an anecdote whereby, looking for a song for a third single, they come across a copy of Stay, by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs in a record shop in Kirkcaldy. Covered many times since, it was a belter then, and it’s a belter now.

The vocal mix is a bit odd in places, either drowned out by the backing (particularly by the keyboards) or ludicrously over-amped for some tracks as Howarth went for the big notes. For the most part, however, the vocal harmonies are a delight, and the playing is great, even allowing for indulgencies such as Hicks’ solos on electric banjo and sitar.

Towards the end, the crowd is gently cajoled into a not entirely spontaneous bout of dancing to Long Cool Woman in Black Dress. The curtain is brought down with the ridiculously fine back-to-back pairing of He Ain’t Heavy and the The Air That I Breathe, and nobody needs prompting to give an ovation for those.