Hayes, Beck Theatre, 12th March 2003

Set List

Long Cool Woman / Here I Go Again / Jennifer Eccles / Yes I Will / Look Through Any Window / Sandy / Listen to Me / 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 / Soldiers 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

Turning the Hollies into something of a 60s supergroup must present a certain quandary in terms of concert logistics. A dozen top five UK hits were just part of a massively successful chart career, and their loyal followers also love several other songs which were only big smashes overseas.

When lead singer Allan Clarke’s retirement led to former Move frontman Carl Wayne joining Hollies stalwarts Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliot and their current-day cohorts , he brought with him some new fans who were Move devotees.

With countless Hollies songs to choose from, and a desire to include a few Move numbers – plus a blast of 70s nostalgia to acknowledge Ray Stiles’s sojourn with Mud – the group must find it hard to decide what to leave out of the set-list.

The Hollies, currently celebrating their 40th anniversary, keep themselves feeling evergreen through a steely resolve not to rest on their laurels. They are always eager to re-work their classics with freshly conceived refinements – and to bring new material to the vibrant repertoire. Carl Wayne is firmly at the heart of proceedings, with his varies showbiz CV contributing towards a charismatic presence at centre stage.

But such is the versatility within the band that he can occasionally slip away and allow other members to handle lead vocals. Behind him, the superb Bobby Elliot – a paragon of the drumming art – whacks his sticks down so hard that he gets his kit dancing. Meanwhile the multi-talented Tony Hicks  of course remains a key element in the band’s superlative harmony set-up, also sharing guitar duties with Alan Coates.

Hollies fans will know which song has Hicks reaching for electric sitar and which one calls for the banjo – and with arranger Ian Parker’s accordian work and wizardry on keyboards, there’s a highly imaginative approach to  instrumentation throughout.

The icing on the cake is the somewhat surreal chance to see the one-time Move wild-man tackle some intensely emotional ballads and other more upbeat Hollies hits – and the reciprocation whereby two of his erstwhile chart rivals join him to celebrate Roy Wood’s unique brand of pop psychedelia.

Review by Russell Newmark for Beat Magazine, May 2003

Photo by Helen Wright

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