Southport Theatre, 9th November 2003

Set List

Long Cool Woman / Here I Go Again / Jennifer Eccles / Yes I Will / Look Through Any Window / Sandy / Butterfly / I’m Alive / Fire Brigade / We’re Through / On a Carousel / Blowin’ In the Wind

How Will I Survive / Sorry Suzanne / Just One Look / The Baby / Soldier Song / Gasoline Alley Bred / Too Young to be Married / Bus Stop / Blackberry Way / Carrie Ann /  The Air That I Breathe / I Can Hear The Grass Grow / Stop! Stop! Stop! / Tiger Feet / He Ain’t Heavy / It’s In Every One of Us

It was with even more anticipation than the previous night that Spev and I arrived in Southport.  We arrived at the theatre and were able to catch strains of the sound check before we found the stage door.  

The guys came on stage to huge applause and launched into Long Cool Woman.  The songs seemed much clearer tonight- which I feel was due to the sound being balanced better than at Sunderland.  Alan’s slide guitar solo in Jennifer Eccles was great. The guys played their wonderful hits including (one of my favourites) Look Through Any Window and (one of Carl’s favourites) Yes I Will.  I like their set list- they begin the gigs with their ‘hit’ songs and then start to introduce their lesser well known songs.  

Bobby, Carl and Ian left the stage and it was time for Ray to come forward for Listen To Me.  This is a wonderful song and I enjoy the guys’ arrangement- I love acappella harmony singing, and certainly never tire of hearing that beautiful sound.  The first half seemed to go so quickly and soon we were into Blowin’ In The Wind written by the ever-local Bob Dylan. Carl's voice was amazing all evening but I love hearing him sing this!  Another song I love is his Sandy  which was also performed during the first half.  Carl really puts feeling into the lyrics- you can’t help but be wowed by him.  

After starting the second half with their new record How Do I Survive, the guys were soon playing The Baby.  Tony’s sitar solo was very different (although still popular in Bradford) - very enjoyable. I love Carl singing this too. And then we launched into one of the most moving songs of the evening; Soldier’s Song. The lighting programme which accompanies this show is truly amazing but this new version really excelled itself and I loved the intense red wash; it covered the band and added so much depth to the song.  This was enhanced by Carl’s wonderful voice; so fitting on Remembrance Sunday. Carl's meaningful vocals and Bobby’s drumming sent shivers down my spine.  Even Tony’s guitar solo - which is so right for the song - couldn’t make me feel anything other than respectful and sad. At the end of the song when the audience quietened, Tony summed it up: “Follow that? We’ll try.”  And they followed it with Gasoline Alley Bred  before Tony launched into the ever wonderful Too Young To Be Married.

When Carl, Bob and Ian returned to the stage they launched into the Move hits and the rest of the Hollies hits including Blackberry Way, during which Carl came to our side of the stage with his microphone stand. Everyone in the front two rows sat back in their seats as Carl offered the gentleman in front of me the chance to sing!! The wonderful Air That I Breathe followed - love that guitar intro, Tony!  Carl announced this as the last song but everyone was shouting for more and the guys obliged with more Move and Hollies songs including I Can Hear The Grass Grow.

Carl left the stage, but not before inviting the audience to dance to Ray's Tiger Feet. Again another wonderful non- Hollies song that the guys make their own. Carl returned to centre stage and started the ever poignant He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.  I may tire of the original recording being played on radio non-stop when the guys had so many other hits but I could never tire of the live version.   

The guys concluded with the beautiful It’s In Every One Of Us. The audience were ecstatic and probably would have stayed for more, given the chance. I don’t feel I have given any of the guys enough credit for the wonderful jobs they do during and after the gigs; their friendliness towards fans is always well received and appreciated.

Roll on Manchester... or is that Rock On? 

Review by Peej Harding 

Photo by Helen Macdonald

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