“So sleep silent angel, go to sleep”…

The Hollies – Harrogate

Yes, I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it too! But it was a last minute and cut price eBay purchase and I needed to get my “Forty for Forty” number up!

However, there was also a side element to this one too. It’s not often I meet people who understand my obsession for all things Finn. Yet 10 years ago, I met a female colleague who did.

To the point that I could openly discuss the number of times I had seen him, safe in the knowledge that she had seen the Hollies, many more times over many more years. So whenever I have seen the Hollies advertised, I have always thought of her.

The venue was the refurbished Royal Hall in Harrogate. A world away from the Brudenell social club in Leeds, it is refined and I guess, upper class. That’s not particularly to my taste, but it has a certain charm and I had been before to see Young Ollie perform with school a few months ago.

So, what do I know about the Hollies other than “He ain’t heavy”. Well, not a lot I thought. It’s not the original line up. Only 2 remain, with the rest made up with members from Crosby, Stills and Nash, Mud and Clannad.

The show was in 2 parts and for the 1st, we were up in the gods. Its fair to say that we were probably the youngest there. Not just by a couple of years, but it felt like a couple of generations. Perhaps in their day, talking loudly over songs was the norm, but times have changed and it took a lot of restraint not to point that out.

With what could be misinterprited as a fair slice of cheese, the 1st half rattled along at a fast pace. I knew 3 songs from the set, including one song that sat more at home in the film “Dirty Dancing”. The banter with the crowd seemed a little disjointed and ill at ease at first from where we were, but the sound and the vocal was spot on.

Yet the songs didn’t really connect with the crowd around us. Even the die hard element behind us seemed to mumble the words and you wondered if they had chosen to play more obscure songs, especially when they played 2 songs, one of which only charted in Norway and the other in New Zealand.

During the set, we spotted a pair of seats down the front that hadn’t been taken, so we nipped down and upgraded at half time. Between the move and a change in tempo from the band, it turned the gig on its head for us.

The 2nd half was clearly
more about the hits – song after song got the crowd on its feet and singing loudly, even dancing in the gangways. The banter never let up, but it felt more acceptable now. But the time they got round to “He ain’t heavy”, they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands.

Leaving the venue, you couldn’t help but admire that, despite the cliches, this is a band whose music has endured for 50 years. There were people here who have clearly carried this music within them for most of their life. It felt good to be a part of that.

It came as no surprise to bump into my old colleague too. She had danced the night away for gig number unspeakable and had the time of her life. A true kindred spirit and good to see her. I now move onto Leeds on Tuesday night for the Eels, in what I am sure will be a contrasting night.

So tonights music comes from the Hollies. This is the last song of the night and possibly one of the best love songs that has ever been written. “The Air That I Breathe”.


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