Winding Wheel, Chesterfield, 17th February 2004

Set List

I’m Alive / Here I Go Again / Jennifer Eccles / Yes I Will / On A Carousel / Listen To Me / Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top / I Can’t Let Go / We’re Through / Fire Brigade / Look Through Any Window / Blowin’ In The Wind

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Long Cool Woman / Sorry Suzanne / Just One Look / The Baby / Soldier’s Song / Gasoline Alley Bred / Too Young To Be Married / Bus Stop / Blackberry Way / Carrie Anne / Stop! Stop! Stop! / The Air That I Breathe / I Can Hear The Grass Grow / Tiger Feet / He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother / It’s In Every One of Us  

I had seen the Hollies last year at Pennington’s nightclub in Bradford, and was a little disappointed as they played a reduced set and the venue just didn’t seem right for them.

Despite being only 20 minutes from home, The Winding Wheel was a place I’d never been to before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It turned out to be a small but pleasant theatre – ideal for the band.

As usual the concert stared on time, with “I’m Alive” kicking off.  Hit after hit kept coming along.  I was aware of others in the audience suddenly realising how many hits the group have had.

One new feature is the projected images onto the backdrop.  This was a mixture of fancy patterns on some numbers, and shots of  the group playing – presumably from something like web-cams placed strategically on the stage – on others.  “Look Through Any Window” featured shots of the group through a window!  I have no idea why we had the story of bananas showing during the interval!

I have always felt that Alan Clarke had one of the best voices in pop, and was concerned when he retired that the group would not be able to continue.  But the group has taken the opportunity to develop, and despite Carl Wayne sounding different to Alan, the unmistakable sound of the Hollies is still there.  It is interesting to hear what a fine voice Alan Coates has, as he takes lead vocals on some numbers.

The highlight of the show, apart from the obvious finale, was undoubtedly “Soldier’s Song”.  Always one of my live favourites when Alan sang it, Carl adds extra drama to the song, and you can almost see the storyline being painted!  The drumming of Bobby Elliott on this song is intense. Tony’s guitar playing is very underrated – he should be mentioned up there with the greats. 

The end, as always, came far too soon.  Carl gave the impression that he feels privileged to be able to sing all the songs, but particularly “He Ain’t Heavy” – and he did it full justice.  The final song, “It’s In Everyone Of Us”, summed up the strength of the group with its superb vocals.

I have always found that around this area audiences tend to be sparing with their applause, but this wasn’t the case tonight.  A rapturous ovation, which I believe impressed the group, seemed to go on forever.  Perhaps the relative intimacy of the theatre helped.  It was well deserved.

It was interesting to hear comments from people who had not seen the band recently as they were leaving.  “Amazing” and “sensational” were the common descriptions.  Hopefully we’ll see them back in Chesterfield soon. 

Review by Keith Porter

Photo by Helen Macdonald

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