Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall, 5th 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

"It's Wednesday - it must be Nottingham!"

The Royal Concert Hall was one of those halls especially built with classical music in mind and as such the acoustics are very good. 7.30 approaches and the atmosphere is building up; virtually on time the lights are extinguished and we are into the new first-half intro; a bit of the gipsy in this - shades of Bohemia. In the back-of-stage murk we notice Bobby, Ian and Ray taking their positions and the audience gives them a good welcome, the volume of which is increased when Tony, Alan and Carl take their places.

The boys go straight into that great number, Long Cool Woman. We are still not sure about losing this one from the end of the show but having said that, it certainly is a good number to get the audience going. This is closely followed by Here I Go Again and Jennifer Eccles. By now we can appreciate those good acoustics; the band sounds great with the volume on Tony's guitar just right.

Next Carl introduces his own favourite Hollies number, Carole King's Yes I Will. Carl's voice gives us those extended notes that he does so well. Look Through Any Window is followed by Sandy - Carl's version of this is very deep and passionate, a chance to show his range of powerful notes.

Alan Coates then takes centre stage for the album track Butterfly. We are not sure whether this song has possibly had its day on tour, however it does give Mr. Coates a chance to show off that silky voice, and gives Tony and Carl a first-half break. Soon the full band are back with that great Number 1, I'm Alive. The show is on an unstoppable roll now, it's Rock 'n' Roll all the way to the interval. Next up is that super Move song Fire Brigade, still without the sirens and bells but Bob makes up for this with great percussion. Talking of which, Bob's intro into We're Through has the usual style, with Ian Parker stage bound and sharing microphones with other band members and finishing centre stage in the band's version of musical chairs, with Carl seated at the keyboards.

Next it's On A Carousel at full speed and again Alan Coates giving us some grand vocals. The first half finishes with Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind, another chance for Carl to demonstrate those extended vocal gymnastics. 

The second half starts with the new song recorded in the Abbey Road studios, How Do I Survive. It is a good song, but its complicated structure makes it difficult to sing along with. Then it's back to familiar territory with Sorry Suzanne and the immaculate Just One Look. We are then treated to our favourite Carl Wayne Hollies number, Chip Taylor's The Baby, the original version of which was sung by Mikael Rikfors during Allan Clarke's spell away. Carl's version is outstanding, just think what a re-release of this song with Carl on vocals would do, including some fine sounds from Tony's Guitar Sitar.

Another song follows that Carl has grown into, Soldier Song. Tony pointed out what a particularly good job Carl had done on this song tonight, in fact a very good performance from the entire band.

The band now becomes three, with Ray feeling his way to the centre microphone. The next two songs, Gasoline Alley Bred and Too Young to Be Married are becoming a real highlight of the show. Tony's almost innocent voice is very refreshing, and with terrific vocals from Alan Coates and Ray Stiles, it is true harmony. Tony singing his own song, Too Young, is a collector's item and the guitar solo with that new electric acoustic is wonderful.

Carl is back on stage, cracking a gag to introduce Bus Stop and the band are back at full steam ahead. This leads us into the second of those Move numbers, Blackberry Way. Carl is now at one with the audience and he is hard at work getting full audience participation. The crowd react well and are shouting for more. We are then led into the sounds of the Caribbean for Carrie Anne, another good all rounder, and all the boys seem to be enjoying themselves.

Now we are confused, Carl announces the end of the show with Air That I Breathe - what, no Stop, Stop, Stop? Has Tony at last retired the banjo? Air That I Breathe was as good as usual and left Carl asking if we wanted more - as if the answer would be 'no'!

The Hollies now go into the last Move song of the evening, the powerful I Can Hear The Grass Grow. Tony seems to love this and his guitar work again gives the song real body. As for the lyrics, well it was the sixties!

Carl again asks the audience if we want more and introduces Tiger Feet - Ray stays seated and with shrieks from the rest of the band Carl is reminded that he has forgotten Stop Stop Stop! Now with everyone in place, it's 'straight in' without the usual long banjo intro. We are surprised that no-one is up dancing at this point. Soon Ray is back centre stage and the band go straight into that Mud classic Tiger Feet. Let the dancing commence, and it does as most of the front row are on their feet. Ray still can't get Tony to shake guitars with him but Alan Coates goes for it.

The audience applause precedes He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, a live favourite of all age groups and the reason why a lot of the audience are there. The band finish with that moving verse from It's In Every One of Us, leaving Bobby to thank the Nottingham audience, as they have been a wonderful crowd. 

Review by Marie and Vince Ashbrook 

Photo by David Eaves

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