Frankie Goes Home

There cannot be a better place on this planet than Liverpool to experience Holly Johnson. Appearing at the Philharmonic Hall, just a stones through from where he grew up, this gig was set to be a very special night, but how would Holly perform? He’s back now with a new album, Europa, after a number of years away concentrating on his painting career, he was no slouch at that either with his art being shown at the Tate Gallery amongst others.

The minute the band started playing the anticipation rose in the packed audience, Holly arrived on stage in his black leather jacket to rapturous applause and some screaming (mainly from a couple of lads behind me). He launched into his first track, ‘Atomic City’, from his first solo album ‘Blast’, and immediately the audience were taken back in time to the 1980’s. Any fears of disappointment were dispelled quickly as Holly proved he had lost none of his ability or his charisma.

He then moved into ‘Warriors of the Wasteland’, from Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s second album ‘Liverpool’, at this point is was abundantly clear that Holly had bought together some of the best musicians around. If you aren’t fully aware of this song let me elaborate, the song is powerful and only sounds right live with quality musicians and here we had them. So before I go on, a huge mention for the backing band who made the show that even more special. Warriors was powerful vocally but as this track finished Holly suddenly sung the line, ‘The world is my oyster’ and everyone in the audience knew what was to come, the musical masterpiece ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome‘, now the crowd were on their feet dancing. The crowd stayed dancing through the amazing ‘Rage Hard’ and arguably his most famous solo hit ‘Love Train’.

One thing that I will really take away from this show is how happy Holly seemed, always smiling and joking with the audience. When the excitable lads behind me started to sing the beginning of ‘Relax’ every time there was a break in the songs, Holly told them they would have to wait because, “That’s the money shot!”

Holly started to perform some tracks from his new, and quite frankly superb album, ‘Europa’, including the instantly catchy ‘Follow Your Heart’ and his new single ‘Dancing with no Fear’. The audience loved these too, showing that his appeal remains. We may not be in the Frankie Goes to Hollywood heyday anymore but it kind of felt like we were back there, Holly’s hand actions and movements were reminiscent of his performance at ‘Rock Around the Dock’, remember that?

The hits kept coming and then he finished with ‘Relax’, his most famous song without a doubt. Everyone was up on their feet now, even my 75 year old dad who also has major heart issues, he can’t walk very far but he can dance to Holly Johnson!

As Holly left the stage to a standing ovation, there were predictably calls for more, Holly didn’t disappoint and came back on stage to the sound of air attack warning sirens and the crowd erupted, we were treated to a brilliant performance of ‘Two Tribes’ followed by the most beautiful love song ever written, ‘The Power of Love’. This was the end of an amazing night. Holly came home and Liverpool was rocking.

Holly Johnson’s new album ‘Europa‘ is out now

For Tour details of this must see show, goto http://www.hollyjohnson.com/dispatch/?p=35954

Image Credits: “Holly Johnson2014” by Florian Hoffmann (FlHoffmann) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holly_Johnson2014.jpg#/media/File:Holly_Johnson2014.jpg

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Phil Woods

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Comedy writer with Steve Smith. Author of the book & Satire Website, 'The Daily Skid - The best bits' also Beat About the Bush with @GiftedDuck