Review: The Hollies

Last updated 14:35 22/02/2014

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The Hollies at CBS Canterbury Arena, Friday, February 21. Reviewed by Vicki Anderson.

Amongst the first words from British band The Hollies was "Didn't fancy the rugby then?"

Two major events in close proximity led to some parking frustrations in Addington last night. When I arrived at CBS Arena two parking attendants were yelling frantically at each other as groups carrying beer wandered past, on their way to watch the Crusaders lose to the Chiefs.

With more hit singles than The Beatles in the 1960s The Hollies performed last night to mark both their 50th anniversary celebrations and their latest live album.

Peter Howarth said he was sad they weren't performing at the Christchurch Town Hall - they last performed there in February 2011. The band fondly recalled recording their Live Hits album there in 1976.

Hits performed last night stretched back to the band's early days as on Just One Look, which saw keyboardist Tom Hicks don a miner's helmet with torch and wander through the crowd with his tambourine, alongside On A Carousel, Suzanne, Carrie Ann, Bus Stop and stretched through to their more recent "Dolphin Days".

There were songs that were hits in Scandanavia and New Zealand, a curious number about a racehorse named Stewball who liked wine, reverential guitar sitar moments with Tom Hicks and all were complete with the glorious three part harmonies that is The Hollies' trademark.

Howarth's own unique arrangement of Here I Go Again saw the song stripped back to its essence.

But the highlight of their set came in the final quarter with songs like my personal favourite - The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee, Stop Stop Stop - written after the then teens saw bellydancing in a New York club with a "villain" of a record company manager, and Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress.

Aware of the anniversary of the quake today, The Hollies praised the city's sense of "unity", having earlier praised Smash Palace and helpful "Dave" at a local squash club, before dedicating He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother to the people of Christchurch.

Two people who know all about long roads with winding turns are renowned drummer Bobby Elliott and Hicks, who have somewhat impressively toured every year for 50 years.

I left with encore The Air That I Breathe rolling around my brain.

The Hollies are to be commended for their enduring dedication and commitment to their Christchurch fans.

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