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Review: The Hollies and The Searchers, Ludlow Festival

South Shropshire | News | Published:

Sixties supergroups The Hollies and The Searchers had fans old and new rocking in the aisles as they brought the 54th Ludlow Arts Festival to a spectacular end.

The Hollies on stage at Ludlow Castle Picture: S&B Photography

Thousands packed into the grounds of Ludlow Castle for the closing concert of this year's revamped nine-day event – which doubled up as a 50th anniversary celebration concert since these two chart-topping bands were formed.

Beforehand it was all picnics, wine and cheeseboards as people turned up with chairs and tables well ahead of the advertised 7.30pm start time and clearly determined to enjoy their day.

But from the moment the stage lit up and The Searchers came out to play, the grey brigade formed their very own "mosh pit" and came out to play. Seats were vacated, and a dancefloor formed.

Featuring founder member John McNally, now well into his 70s, he led his revamped band as they opened with Drifters cover Sweet for my Sweet and continued through a back catalogue which included Don't Throw Your Love Away, Needles and Pins and Love Potion No 9.

The group signed off with two covers – Twist and Shout by The Beatles and You'll Never Walk Alone – to leave the crowd in a near frenzy by the time of the interval.

Swiftly following The Searchers were The Hollies. The band delivered a set that included such recognisable numbers as Stop, Stop, Stop; Carrie Anne; and reworked On A Carousel.

But it was the anthems He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother and The Air That I Breathe that carried the biggest emotional impact – with the later reducing two grown women to tears near the front of the stage.

The band might be missing heavyweights Graham Nash and Allan Clarke these days, but their performance ensured the spectacular fireworks at the end of the show weren't the only thing to light up a fantastic finale.

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The rain held off, the castle lit up and the fireworks rounded up nine days of fantastic entertainment.

Chris Davis and Chris Moreno, the two men who have saved this event, deserve to take a bow along with the likes of 10cc, Paul Merton, Reginald D Hunter, Jools Holland and these two bands.

It's been emotional. Roll on next year.

By Wayne Beese

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