The Hollies Forum Index » Writing On The Wall » Ole Bull Scene, Bergen, by Sarah Doughty 29th September
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hollies Post subject: Ole Bull Scene, Bergen, by Sarah Doughty 29th September

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At the start of the show Knut Skyberg came onstage and welcomed the audience in Norwegian for the final night of the band’s Scandinavian tour in Bergen.

The Hollies have been a remarkable success story in Norway. Only last year over 1,000 tickets were sold in two days at the Grieg Hall, while this year the Hollies played sell-out performances in Trondheim, Oslo and two nights in Bergen at the Ole Bull Scene.

I was lucky enough to be at the final concert in Bergen. It was also my last night in Norway – where I had been on holiday for a few days, taking in some of the sights of the beautiful city of Bergen and dodging rain showers.

Earlier that day I had met some of the Hollies’ team at the top of Mount Floyen, including Rob, Lesley, Knut, Borgny, Steve (Phillips) and Harald – who stopped to chat for a while, before heading back towards Starbucks in town. I’d already read the story of the moment online – several nights earlier the truck carrying 2.5 tonnes of the band’s gear broke down in the early hours outside Trondheim!

The rest of the tour might have come close to being cancelled, but some 70 phone calls later, Knut had found replacement truck driver Harald, who stepped in with a van to drive the equipment some 420km first to Oslo for the concert on Saturday, then on to Bergen.

Everyone was much relieved that Harald saved the day. He was later applauded at the successful concert in Oslo, and even featured in the regional online newspaper and pictured with the Hollies.

After all that drama, it seemed remarkably lucky that we did get to see the Hollies in town on their final Scandinavian tour date that night.

The Ole Bull Scene in Bergen is a small venue of under 500 seats used for cabaret, music and theatre. Knut’s wife Borgny was at the door welcoming people in and handing out colour flyers – which both outlined the history of the Hollies and explained how the proceeds of the Norwegian concerts go to Nyaya Health to fund the Bayalpata hospital in Nepal.

Having made our way to our seats in the fourth row of the theatre, the place was already buzzing. Everybody was in good spirits, looking forward to the show; many here had probably seen the Hollies before.

As the concert began, the lights dimmed, the opening music started up and the band launched into I Can’t Let Go (their biggest hit in Norway), Here I Go Again, Sorry Suzanne and On A Carousel.

Peter and Tony did most of the links between songs and it was soon clear that the band were in very good spirits and humour. The Bergen crowd were very responsive, so there was a great atmosphere in the theatre from the start.

The well orchestrated movements off and on stage gave Steve and Ray a chance to take the lead and for the band to pace themselves.

The classic hits followed one after the other, but peppered with a couple of newer album tracks and a few surprises along the way.

After Carousel – and changing the pace completely was Emotions, King Midas in Reverse sung expertly by Steve, followed by Look Through Any Window with its great guitar introduction and We’re Through.

Peter introduced the next song and said it was one that had only been written a few months earlier by himself and Bobby. Perhaps it was Skylarks from the new compilation? But in fact the new song was Priceless, which Peter has sung on his solo tours in the UK, now being performed with the band in Scandinavia!

Other hits followed: the Very Last Day, once a big hit in Sweden, followed by Just One Look, the song that gave the Hollies their first ever hit in Norway. During this song Ian donned a headlight and ventured down the little steps at the front of the stage, and wound his way through the seats entertaining the audience as he went. Another classic, Stay, followed and a lively performance of Curly Billy completed the first half of the set.

The interval followed with encouragement to the bar: ‘the band sounds better with drinks!’ and the handy stage-side bar beckoned. The prices of drinks in Norway might make you feel a bit faint by UK standards, but a small price to pay for a great night out with the Hollies.

A short time later the band were back with the Supremes’ hit Stop! In the Name of Love, which is terrific performed live, plus other favourites including Jennifer Eccles, Yes I Will, Bus Stop and I’m Alive. This was followed by Tony’s mesmerising sitar-guitar solo and of course The Baby, always one of the highlights of the show for me and arguably one of their best ever songs.

Bobby was then invited away from his seat at the back of the stage by Peter to talk to the audience. He told us about the band’s friendship with Bruce Springsteen over the decades as an introduction to the song Sandy, which might normally have been a solo, but on this occasion was accompanied.

Carrie Anne and Tony’s banjo introduction led into Stop Stop Stop, with Ian playing the accordion and sharing the microphone with Tony, along with the distinctive sound of two sets of maracas.

Unbelievably, it was then time for the final songs and anthems, as the evening was indeed drawing towards the close with He Ain’t Heavy (perhaps the most popular of the ‘big’ songs in Norway), The Air that I Breathe, all performed impeccably – saving Long Cool Woman with its audience participation for the encore.

At the end of the concert the whole audience was on its feet for a standing ovation – nobody wanting the performance to end. Peter thanked the Bergen crowd for coming: ‘we always enjoy playing but specially so when we have such a fabulous audience, thank you’.

So, these songs, their magical performance, the standing ovation from the crowd – this must be what has kept the band on the road and going strong for so many years, whether it’s Bergen or Brighton.

As I made my way out of the theatre, I met a beaming Harald at the door for a few moments – he looked as if he was having the time of his life on this unexpected tour of Norway with the Hollies.

We’d had a great evening; thanks to Knut and all in Norway for putting on such a great tour. It was the highlight of my short time in Bergen.

Back to the UK and the Hollies are already out on tour. Make sure you go see them if you can. I will.

By Sarah Doughty

Best wishes, Rob

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