The Hollies on the Highway to bring hits to Sheffield

The Hollies.
The Hollies.

Stay, Just One Look, We’re Through, Yes I Will, Look Through Any Window, I Can’t Let Go, Bus Stop, Stop Stop Stop, On a Carousel, Carrie Anne, Jennifer Eccles, I Can’t Tell the Bottom from the Top.

The list of hits by The Hollies is almost as long as their career – and that’s just the top-10 singles.

And that’s also without mentioning their UK number one I’m Alive, from 1965, or 1974’s iconic The Air That I Breathe, or He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, a number three hit in 1969 and number one on its re-release in 1988 after featuring on a TV advert for light beer.

And the band, which first formed in 1962 and still features veteran members Tony Hicks on guitar and Bobby Elliott on drums, are showing no signs of slowing down.

Tony says: “The band just keeps on going.

“Performing on stage is a great thing.

“If you feel you have done a good performance, it’s a very good feeling.”

The trick, he says, is plenty of downtime.

“We get a lot of time off after a run of gigs,” he says. “It feels different, like you deserve it.

“We don’t work that much these days, by choice. We pick and choose what we do.”

And The Hollies – Tony and Bobby, along with bassist Ray Stiles and keyboardist Ian Parker, who both joined in 1991, and guitarist Steve Lauri and singer Peter Howarth, newbies with just the 14 years each in the band – have chosen to take their A Highway to Hits show on the road, with the tour arriving at Sheffield City Hall on Saturday, April 28.

“Because we don’t work that much, when we do get together, it’s quice nice,” says Tony, now aged 72.

“Sometimes I haven’t seen them for months, but we all get on very well. We’re quite happy to see each other.

“We do these tours every two years, although it’s a long time since we’ve been in Sheffield.”

Tony is honest enough to admit nostalgia plays a big part in their attraction to audiences the nation over.

“We have a very middle-aged audience,” he says.

“Of course, nostalgia is a great thing – people remember where they were in 1968,” he adds, referencing the year the band reached number seven with Jennifer Eccles.

Tony is recognised as an incredibly talented guitarist – and he admits performing live gives him a the chance to indulge in his love of the instrument.

“I am a great lover of the instrument of the guitar,” he says, admitting he can often be found in the hours before shows perusing music shops in the area and looking to add to the 30-or-so guitars dotted around his home in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

“I am a great collector of guitars and have been since the 1960s.

“When we toured the US, we used to tour for three or four months at a time.

“Once we were in the hotel, I used to get a taxi to the pawn shop areas – it’s amazing the instruments you find in there.

“They could have been put there by mums and dads whose sons had gone off to Vietnam and not come back.

“I found some amazing instruments.”

And he is looking forward to dusting off his collection to perform in Sheffield as he promised a show to remember.

“We put a lot of energy and focus into the quality of equipment we use, such as sound and lighting, and the people operating it,” says the Lancastrian.

“However, we know what people want.

“They want all the hits – and we’re fortunate in that we do have a lot of hits.

“It’s a two-hour show, with a 20-minute interval.

“We never have a support act, because we like to take over the place.”