Mission Estate Vineyards, Napier, New Zealand

10th February 2001

Photo courtesy of Hawkes Bay Today Newspaper

Hollies Bask in Bay Warmth

The Mission Concert 2001 turned on a heat wave before unleashing a 60s soundwave for the more than 20,000 people who turned a green hillside into a multi-coloured landscape on Saturday. Umbrellas were as necessary an accessory as the chilly bin and wine opener as temperatures soared during the afternoon.

While the official Napier temperature was 24.5deg, a temperature gauge at the site revealed 29 - although the lack of predicted cloud, light winds and sardine-like conditions made it feel more like 30-plus. Brian Galloway, spokesman for IMG, said it was the hottest Mission Concert he could recall, but the heat failed to sap the energy of the "Missionaries" who began arriving at the gates as early as 10.30am to make a run for the prime spots on the hill. And it failed to sap their enthusiasm for a pop music party - just the same as the 60s and 70s when albums by Lulu and The Hollies were guaranteed pleasers on a Saturday night at someone's house while the parents were out.

But this time it was the parents who were in, and from the opening notes of Shout from the little Scots dynamo the years were shed and vocal chords and dancing hips again tested. It was one of the largest crowds seen at the venue, with figures of up to 25,000 being talked about. At 3pm, five hours before Lulu hit the stage, the hillside was already a packed sea of colour as the summer crowd frolicked in anticipation - although for some that long hot afternoon and the liquid refreshments it encouraged would later prove too much.

By 5pm latecomers were forced to head for the high ground, or the steep slopes to the right of the stage. Those rutted slopes, coupled with discarded bottles and cans on the ground, led to the more serious of the 19 casualties which required hospital treatment. The 16 St John Ambulance personnel, along with 16 first aid staff, were kept busy dealing with a string of fractures and sprains, burns from light-stick chemicals, cuts, back injuries and general sickness. One person was rushed to hospital with chest pains. Twenty-five other people were treated at the site for ailments including sunburn.

Lulu received a rapturous response when she appeared, and for many she turned out to be the star of the night. "She sounded like Lulu," one missionary said. "The Hollies didn't sound like the Hollies."

Without the distinctive voice of Allan Clarke, the band, particularly vocalist Carl Wayne, was always going to have to work hard to reproduce the dozens of hits the  band had.

But they easily won the crowd over and soon had everyone on their feet. At times it was like a very polished karaoke night - the festive crowd singing along to hit after hit. Singer Carl Wayne was "blown away" by the response. 

The singing and the waving of light sticks made it feel like they were in a huge theatre, he said. Guitarist and original member Tony Hicks said he had seen a lot of crowds and performed at hundreds of concerts - but the Mission was something else. "It was tops," was the band's consensus.

They rocked, rolled, threw in a couple of ballads and covers, and gave four encores before leaving the stage. 

Review by  Roger Moroney, Hawkes Bay Today Newspaper

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