SHEER class.

That’s the only way to describe a Hollies concert. Sheer class from start to finish as the first class musicianship permeates every single part of the show.

As soon as they played the opening bars of The Day Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGhee, the sell-out audience at the Lowry knew that a great evening was in store.

The Hollies are a band that have toured every single year for fifty years (not many bands can lay claim to that feat), and they still have two original members in the line-up: drummer par excellence Bobby Elliott and the ever youthful guitarist Tony Hicks.

Joining them to play their massive catalogue of hits are: Ray Stiles on bass, who has been with them since 1988, keyboard player Ian Parker (1990), singer Peter Howarth and second guitarist Steve Lauri (both 2004).

Peter has really come into his own as the lead vocalist. Joining after the tragic death of Carl Wayne, at first he was very much in the mould of the bands’ original lead singer Allan Clarke; but now he is his own man and has stamped his personality on the songs.

Of course, we were treated to a hit-fest, going right back to the beginning with Stay and onwards to their latest album, with a track written by drummer Elliott about the band he and Hicks were in before The Hollies, entitled Dolphin Days.

Of the songs the band performed, no less than 22 were sizeable hit singles, and they even threw in the Hicks-penned Too Young Too Be Married. Not released as a single in the UK, but a chart-topper in Australia.

Some nods to albums were evident in Stewball, Sandy and Very Last Day (again unissued in Britain but a big Scandinavian hit).

And they let us hear some new material from recent albums such as Weakness and Let Love Pass, which ended the show.

Even after all this time, the band enjoy themselves onstage and the virtuosity of their playing is a joy to behold.

Just witness Tony Hicks during his guitar solos and you’ll see what I mean.

I Can’t Let Go, Jennifer Eccles, On a Carousel, Sorry Suzanne were just a handful of the hits they played and of course the audience were on their feet after the anthems that are He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother and The Air That I Breathe.

Two hours and 29 songs went past in a flash.

It might be over fifty years, but The Hollies still have it….. in spades!