13 March 2016, Bristol Hippodrome
Courtesy R Sugden, Bristol Post
With a combined age of 144, original Hollies members Bobby Elliott and Tony Hicks may not be the fresh-faced beat boys they were in their mid-60s heyday but they still command as loyal a following as they ever did, writes Mark Taylor for What's On
Both musicians have been in The Hollies since 1963 and the band have toured every year since - almost unprecedented when most of their contemporaries have either stopped altogether or had lengthy breaks between tours.
After playing in the same band for 53 years, 74-year-old drummer Elliott and 70-year-old guitarist Hicks are probably well used to seeing their fans age with them, but looking around the packed Hippodrome it was obvious that they were by no means the oldest rockers in the audience.
As the audience sang along to the band's biggest 1960s hit single, there were a few moments when the title lyric, I'm Alive, might have been considered more a matter of opinion than a fact. At one point, I even spotted a white-haired pensioner in tight leather trousers.
The band themselves were more soberly dressed. For the first half of this two-hour show, they looked more like bank managers in their matching crisp white shirts and stripy ties, smart black trousers and polished black patent shoes.
Although the band revisited a handful of 'new' tracks from the ten-year-old Staying Power album - including the live favourite Weakness - this was essentially a career-spanning greatest hits set, which must be easy for a band that notched up 16 Top Ten hits in seven years and regularly outsold The Beatles.
Singer Peter Howarth is a relative newcomer to The Hollies, having only been in the band for 12 years, but he is a likeable and popular frontman with a powerful and wide vocal range that easily matches his predecessors.
With long-serving ex-Mud bass player Ray Stiles, keyboardist Ian Parker and former Bonnie Tyler and David Essex guitarist/singer Steve Lauri all contributing to the Hollies' distinctive three-part harmonies, Howarth had solid backing alongside the two original members.
Hits like Sorry Suzanne, Here I Go Again, Look Through Any Window, Just One Look and Jennifer Eccles were played almost as they were first recorded but the band refreshed the arrangements for certain songs, including On A Carousel and We're Through, which was enhanced by some deft acoustic guitar from Hicks and Gypsy-style accordion from Parker, who must be one of the few 62-year-olds to sport a white mohican.
Throughout the show, Elliott showed us why his powerhouse drumming has inspired generations of drummers including Phil Collins and Cozy Powell, and Hicks reminded everybody just how talented a guitarist he is on Stop Stop Stop with its psychedelic banjo solo.
The hits just kept on coming throughout the second half with Yes I Will, Carrie-Anne and Bus Stop, but it was the chart-topping He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother and 1974's The Air That I Breathe that finally got the audience to its feet as Howarth lead a roof-raising mass singalong, which lead into a rousing finale of Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress.
After two hours, the band looked they still had enough fuel in the tank to play all night. They may have been touring for more than half a century, but The Hollies show no signs of slowing down and neither does their ever-youthful audience.
The Hollies played The Bristol Hippodrome on Sunday, March 13.
Read more at http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/review-hollies/story-28918269-detail/whatson/story.html#kh45GmsLOBLkUX8Z.99