Review: THE HOLLIES - WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong NSW, Sunday 16th February 2014

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One of the U.K.'s most famous and the world's most loved groups of the sixties and beyond has been playing to sell out crowds around Australia on their 2014 tour and Wollongong, south of Sydney, finally got their chance to enjoy those perfect Hollies harmonies on Sunday night at the WIN Entertainment Centre. Their music spans more than fifty years and they are one of the few bands from that era (and subsequent eras) to have never officially called it quits. Despite some line-up changes along the way, The Hollies have continued to entertain music lovers around the world throughout the decades, without ever really changing their style. Sure, there is variety in their extensive catalogue of hits but their songs all carry those hallmark Hollies harmonies and that identifiable Hollies sound.

There was no support act for The Hollies. Let's face it, this is a group that has churned out more than enough hits to fill a three hour set every night for a week so cutting it down to a couple of hours wouldn't have been an easy task but they managed to include most if not all of the favourites and if there was anything missing, I'm sure they could be forgiven for not finding a space to slot it in somewhere.

These days, The Hollies is Tony Hicks on guitar, sitar, banjo and vocals; Bobby Elliott on drums; Ian Parker on keyboards and vocals; Steve Lauri on guitar and vocals; Ray Stiles on bass and vocals and Peter Howarth on acoustic guitar and lead vocals. After various line-up changes over the years, the only original member in the band is Tony. However, Bobby Elliott joined the following year, 1963, which is close enough I guess. That is fifty odd years each... do they give out gold watches to band members? Despite the line-up changes and having various vocalists along the way, as I said before, the hallmark Hollies harmonies have remained intact throughout and the band has continued to tour, perform and record, barely skipping a beat in the process.

The show was basically a History of The Hollies, full of classic hits and musical milestones. We were given some background into many of the songs and I, for one learnt something new when we were told that the song 'Sandy' was, in fact, penned by a young Bruce Springsteen. Now, I will probably get severely scolded for admitting that as I am a huge fan of The Boss and I pride myself in my Springsteen knowledge but I guess, on this occasion, I have failed rather miserably. Either way, it is a beautiful song and The Hollies' rendition is nothing short of mesmerising. Guitarist Steve Lauri shared the story of his very young school days in Wollongong, attending Wollongong Primary School and told us the name of the street in which he lived in those days. He also disclosed the fact that he was, indeed, a Hollies fan when he was a young boy and that one of their albums was amongst the first records his parents bought for him so becoming a part of that band many years later was a dream come true for him.

The band did two sets, each jam packed with much loved Hollies songs. In the first set, we were treated to 'I Can't Let Go', 'Jennifer Eccles', 'Carousel', 'Just One Look' and 'Too Young to be Married', just to name a few. After a brief intermission, the guys returned for another hour or so of hit after hit including 'Sorry Suzanne', 'Bus Stop', 'Carrie Anne', a medley consisting of 'Listen to Me', 'Here I Go Again' and 'Gasoline Alley Bred'. The crowd finally got on their feet for one of the band's biggest hits here in Australia in the seventies, the very upbeat 'Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress' then slowed down the pace with what has become something of a signature tune for The Hollies, the rather poignant 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother', beautifully performed and greatly deserving of the standing ovation it earned the band on the night. The closer was their highly successful 'Air That I Breathe', their harmonies yet again, another delight to the senses. The encore, after much prompting from an audience that was not too eager to let the night end just yet, was an acapella version of 'Let Love Pass', with Peter, Steve, Tony, Ray and Ian all taking to the microphone as Bobby looked on from behind. A perfect, harmonious ending to a great night's entertainment.

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by Sharyn Hamey

You can still catch The Hollies at the following venues:

Canberra Theatre
Tuesday 18th February 2014
Bookings: (02) 6275 2700

Melbourne Arts Centre, Hamer Hall
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Bookings: or 136 100

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