The Hollies - Concert Review

Croydon Fairfield Halls, 6th March 1998 - by David Matthews

My concert notes

First half (19.40 hours)
Here I go again
Yes I will
I can't let go
Man with no expression
Sorry Susanne
Don't let me down (acoustic)
Helplessly hoping (acoustic)
Butterfly (Alan Coates, vocals)
I'm alive
When I'm dead and gone (Tony Hicks/Alan Coates, vocals)
On a carousel

Interval (20.30 hours)

Second half (20.55 hours)
Stop in the name of love
Jennifer Eccles
Just one look
We're through
Bus stop
Peggy Sue got married (Buddy Holly, vocals)
Maybe baby (acoustic)
Rave on (acoustic)
Look through any window
Carrie Anne
Stop stop stop
The air that I breathe
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
Johnny B Goode
Let's dance
Long cool woman in a black dress

Close (22.00 hours)

I approached this concert whilst looking back to a very good performance at Wimbledon last November, and looking forward to the convention at Brighton and another concert the next day. I was also pleased to have been able to purchase and listen to the excellent new Abbey Road 1966 to 1970 CD the day before this concert (Why was 'Jennifer Eccles' omitted from this collection?).

I was certainly hoping for some variations to the songlist and ideally the inclusion of some of their excellent album tracks or 'B' sides instead of some of the cover versions they seem to favour.

The concert started unfortunately with some sound and microphone problems and with Allan's vocal on 'Stay' being somewhat inaudible. After this initial song these problems seemed to be fixed and I was better able to enjoy the show.

The first surprise of the evening was when Allan acknowledged the fans requests for album tracks to be played. He referred to the group's reputation as a singles band and how they recorded many albums that didn't get played.

He then began to introduce a song written by Graham Nash and Terry Reid only for Tony to stop him in mid-sentence to tell him that he was a song too early. (Were they really going to perform 'Man with no expression'?)

So, after performing 'Sandy' they did indeed sing 'Man of no expression (horses through a rainstorm)'. This was a rare treat and it gave Alan Coates another showcase for his Nash style vocal.

This song, recorded by both The Hollies (August 1968) and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (December 1969) had only been released by both artists in the 1990's on compilations. By co-incidence I had just recently heard a version by John Mellencamp.

A further welcome surprise was the acoustic rendition of 'Don't let me down'. This is a well regarded track from a 1974 album when it featured a fuller orchestrated arrangement. This time it featured Allan on acoustic guitar and vocals, with Alan, Tony, Ray, and Ian on backing vocals.

This was followed by more vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars on 'Helplessly Hoping'.

A highlight from the autumn tour was repeated when Alan Coates took centre stage for 'Butterfly', a childlike period piece from 1967.

They still included 'When I'm dead and gone' in the set, and it was refreshing to hear Tony take a co-lead vocal with Coatsie on this McGuinness Flint hit from 1970.

Alongside these rarer items there was a trio of Buddy Holly songs, a Motown song, and a couple of rock'n'roll numbers, including 'Johnny B Goode' this time.

More importantly for the fans of the hits there were sixteen UK top ten hits plus the US smash 'Long cool woman' as the perennial show closer. As with the Wimbledon concert the arrangements for most of these hits placed a welcome emphasis on the guitar sounds that were such a feature of the recorded versions.

In conclusion this was another enjoyable concert with a good selection of the hits and the bonus of hearing some rarely heard but well regarded album tracks.

David Matthews

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