Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Hollies, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 13 November 2010

I went along to this blast from the past with both my highly-enthusiastic grown-up children. (Hilary would have come had she not been playing in a concert of her own, rather to her disgust!)

First surprise: the Hollies played the evening with no support. The Usher Hall was pretty full, and the audience, while a bit slow to warm up, certainly hit good form later on, and by the second half were, if not bouncing (the average age was over fifty) definitely having fun. And some of them were dancing in the aisles.

Second surprise, though I should just have done the maths, was how few numbers other than famous hits they were required to do to fill an evening. And the third was their readiness to reinvent the classics. Listen To Me was done as a solo by Peter Howarth (the lead vocalist - Allan Clarke left eleven years ago, leaving Tony Hicks on guitar and Bobby Elliott on drums from the 1960s lineups). Look Through Any Window was slowed down and sung over a new riff with different harmonies: the riff bugged me until almost the end of the song when they started soloing over it and I realised it was the chord progression from Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits. They did covers too: their Blowing In The Wind should be passed over quickly, making do as it did with only two of the three lines Dylan wrote for each verse. Their version of Bruce Springsteen's Sandy (Fourth of July) was wonderful: another Howarth solo effort, sung from the heart and making me feel that here was a second Springsteen song I wanted to hear again. Howarth described it as a slightly diffeent version from Bruce's, which the Youtube clips below demonstrate. While I do like the Springsteen original, I like the Hollies variant just as much: less geographically bound, but just as deeply felt.

Tony Hicks is still amazing on guitar, and indeed on a couple of modified electric guitars, on designed to produce a sitar sound for King Midas In Reverse, and the other producing the banjo sound so characteristic of Stop, Stop, Stop. And of course he, with Graham Nash and Allan Clarke, wrote most of the early Hollies hits. A true great.

We all had a marvellous evening, even though Vanessa's favourite song (Gasoline Alley Bred) appeared only as part of a medley, while mine (Stop, Stop, Stop) was dogged by mix-ups over which of Howarth's microphones was live. Would I go and see them again on the next tour? Damn right.

Set list:

The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee
I Can't Let Go
Jennifer Eccles
Sorry Suzanne
King Midas In Reverse
Dolphin Days
She'd Kill For Me
Sandy (Fourth Of July)
Just One Look
Yes I Will
Look Through Any Window
Blowing In The Wind
I'm Alive
Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress
Bus Stop
On A Carousel
The Baby
Here I Go Again / Hey Willy / Gasoline Alley Bred (medley)
Listen To Me
Carrie Anne
Stop, Stop, Stop
The Air That I Breathe
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
Encore: Let Love Pass


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