Hollies roll back the years

The Hollies - Ipswich Regent, October 4Legendary British pop band The Hollies rolled back the years at the newly spruced up Regent Theatre with a little help from the man who inspired their name - Buddy Holly.

The Hollies - Ipswich Regent, October 4

Legendary British pop band The Hollies rolled back the years at the newly spruced up Regent Theatre with a little help from the man who inspired their name - Buddy Holly. Midday through their second set guitarist Tony Hicks introduced a version of Peggy Sue Got Married which through the marvels of modern technology featured Buddy on lead vocals. Almost fifty years ago Buddy Holly himself graced the same stage and it was a little eerie to hear his wonderful voice filling the auditorium.

With the exception of a handful of songs from the most recent Hollies album Staying Power, the show was a wonderful wallow in nostalgia. Lead singer Peter Howarth is no Allan Clarke but for the most part he handled the classics well and certainly gave one or two a new twist. He was at his best on the early Bruce Springsteen song Sandy which The Hollies originally covered in the days The Boss was just breaking through. Peter, an ex-backing singer for Sir Cliff Richard, also shined on a solo, acoustic rendition of Here I Go Again.

The Hollies left virtually no stone unturned as they treated their diehard fans to hit after hit and by the time they got to The Air That I Breathe and He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother their faithful followers were putty in their hands. Unlike many of the bands from the swinging sixties The Hollies don't need to go out as part of a package tour. With the Manchester music scene back in the spotlight this autumn thanks to the film Control which is based on the life of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, it's worth remembering that it was The Hollies who effectively put the city on the music map in the first place. I'm not suggesting for one moment that they're anywhere near the cutting edge of what's happening on the modern day scene but they remain an influential and well respected act with their close harmonies still to the fore.

Early on Tony Hicks told us how good it was to be back at The Gaumont. It was an easy mistake to make for a man who, together with drummer Bobby Elliott, has been a mainstay of The Hollies since the group landed a record deal with EMI.

The only low point of the evening was a version of the Mud favourite Tiger Feet. This was included because bassist Ray Stiles was a member of Mud throughout the seventies. It stuck out like a sore thumb and didn't come close to the original. They really didn't need to go there. A far better choice from Ray's past chart life would have been Oh Boy, the Buddy Holly standard that Mud took to number one in 1975. That would have been more in keeping with the spirit of The Hollies' history.

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That aside, The Hollies are still worth catching next time they're in town. The material from Staying Power sits comfortably alongside the old stuff but the group is well aware that the hits are their bread and butter and they're not about to bite the hand that feeds.

Stephen Foster

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