The riverside at Castlefields

The riverside at Castlefields

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Merrington Green

Saturday, April 14, 2012. It was the most glorious of mornings. So, while enjoying my Weetabix, I decided to make the most of it. I would go out into the beautiful Shropshire countryside and explore.
A couple of years back, our Dave bought us a lovely book – 50 Walks in Shropshire. And although I was full of good intentions, the truth is the book was shoved into a bookcase and pretty much forgotten about. Until today!
I picked a walk which I reckoned wouldn't kill me. (Always a good start, I think). These walks are rated as one star (likely to be shorter and easier) up to three star (caution advised). Naturally I went for a one star . . . Merrington Green, not to be confused with Camberwick Green.
Merrington is a tiny village with a medieval common. It's the next village along from Bomere Heath, north-west of Shrewsbury. It was a five-and-a-half mile walk which took me almost three hours to complete, and it took me through woodland, an abandoned quarry, across meadows and fields full of cows, along bridleways with ancient hedgerow either side . . . it was gorgeous.
It was probably the longest walk I've done for years but I enjoyed every minute.
Phew! Time to put my feet up.

The Hollies at Theatre Severn

Carol and I went to Theatre Severn on Thursday night (April 12, 2012) to see one of my all-time favourite groups, The Hollies.
I'm thrilled to be able to say that the 2012 incarnation of the band (with legends Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott still in place) are worthy carriers of the torch, doing justice to the legacy, and putting on a proper show.
Needless to say, then, that they are a zillion times better than the poor old Searchers are these days. Myself and Tim Quinn saw the Merseysiders at The Robin 2, at Bilston, in 2008, and, sadly, they had transmogrified into a smarmy, rather embarrassing Butlins-type cabaret act.
The Hollies, on the other hand, are still delivering their music with pride, with great passion and total commitment.
Here's the review I wrote for the Shropshire Star:

History will rightly acclaim The Hollies as one of the truly great groups of the 1960s.

And they were still very much a creative force to be reckoned with well into the 1970s.

Those glory days might be just a distant memory now, but last night The Hollies proved emphatically to a packed-out Theatre Severn that – boy, oh boy – they still have plenty to give.

Only two original members remain in the current line-up: Tony Hicks on guitar and Bobby Elliott on drums.

But guitarist Steve Lauri, Ian Parker on keyboards, Ray Stiles on bass, and especially the fantastically powerful lead vocalist Peter Howarth (Alan Clarke’s replacement) bring their own considerable talents to the table.

The set featured a smattering of “reworkings” of classic recordings and I felt some of these hit the spot while others fell a little flat. Last night’s rendition of Look Through Any Window, for example, lacked the sublime jingle-jangle guitar and gorgeous harmonies of the incandescent 1965 gem, making me yearn for the original.

That said, the band, having warmed up nicely in the first half of the show, really turned on the magic for part two.

More brilliant hits brought us to the show’s climax – blistering performances of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, and, of course, The Air That I Breathe.

Glory be! The spirit of The Hollies is alive and kicking.