Town Hall, Cheltenham, 20th March 2003

Set List

Long Cool Woman / Here I Go Again / Jennifer Eccles / Yes I Will / Look Through Any Window / Sandy / Butterfly / Iím Alive / Fire Brigade / Weíre Through / On a Carousel / Blowiní 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 Ainít Heavy / Itís In Every One of Us

The time had finally arrived, after all the waiting, cancelling, reorganising our trip, fear of flying during the war.  It was Thursday, 20th March 2003, and tonight was my first Hollies concert in the UK. 

I was in the front row, so would be able to get a good look and photos. The show began with a recorded medley of the songs, before the band emerged one by one, and started the show with "Long Cool Woman."

This song has previously been performed towards the end of the show, and in reviews of previous shows for this tour, people have commented on this, and found it a little strange.  I guess because I had read these reviews, I knew what to expect, so wasn't worried.  Who cared, as long as I saw the Hollies.  I noticed whilst the band were performing hit after hit, both Ian and Alan raised eyebrows at me - I was recognised! 

I also acknowledged more singing from Tony. As I'd read in other messages, he now does lead in "Too Young to be Married," but another example where I noticed his singing was the middle part of "Yes I Will."  This middle was originally sung by Graham, and of course Alan plays the part in the band that Graham played, so usually sings those parts.  But in this song, the middle was sung by Tony.  Lovely to hear more of his singing.  

Other new items to me were watching "Tiger Feet" and more Move songs. We didn't have "Tiger Feet" in Melbourne so I was so curious to see it sung Hollies-style.  In Melbourne we had "Blackberry Way" and "Flowers in the Rain" but tonight instead of the latter the band sang "Fire Brigade" and "I Can Hear the Grass Grow."  In "Fire Brigade"  red sirens come on for authenticity. "Sandy" is a song the band have added into this tour, but haven't performed for some time. At the beginning Carl said, "This song is dedicated to Chris."  I assumed it was dedicated to Chris Bowen, because Chris has been sick, but at interval Helen told me the dedication was for me. 

The second act began with my first exposure to the new song "How Do I Survive"  An upbeat, fast-paced song about fear of love breaking up.  Yes, I was impressed by it, and the more I listen to it the more I think it could be a single.  Before the band burst into this song, recorded Spanish music was played, and until I listened to my CD, I thought this was part of the song. It would fit in. "Blackberry Way" was dedicated to me.  This time I definitely heard, "Chris, a lady from Australia."  He held out his arm to me, was able to because I was in front row.  I half-stood and held my arm out back.  With this song I know he likes everyone to sing.  He held the microphone out, right from the stand!  There was full participation from the audience, and he said we sounded like a congregation.  

When Tony began his banjo, I was at the edge of my seat ready to get up.  I looked around, and others got up as the song began, so I did and I belly-danced.  Amongst the crowd of other dancers, I found a spot in front of the stage between Carl and Alan and there I danced. At the end Alan bowed to me. The band played the well-loved ballad "Air That I Breathe," before people got up again to dance to "Tiger Feet."  Now that was a most enjoyable performance by the band!  Now when I hear the original, I close my eyes and see the Hollies with Ray singing.   

Towards the end when "He Ain't Heavy" started, Carol rushed to my seat and grabbed my hand, to the line in front of the stage of people holding hands and swaying, as they do for this song.  And as always, the show ended with the a cappella "It's in Every One of Us."  Hearing those harmonies close up, truly felt part of the atmosphere and mesmerised.

After the show Carol walked me part of the way back to my hotel, where I had to pack for the next day, without waking up Mike.  Later at 3.00 am, I had been asleep, and he woke up, nudged me and asked how was the concert.  Wonderful of course. 

Review by Christine Wilson, Australia

Photo by Helen Macdonald

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