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REVIEW: Holly Johnson at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall


Nov 13, 2023

AS home-comings go this was pretty special.

It was Holly Johnson's mother's birthday and she was in the audience.

The former Frankie Goes to Hollywood front man was in high spirits as he strolled on to the stage wearing a sparkly leather suit brandishing a portable dry ice machine.

He later used a torchlight to turn the spotlight on his loyal, adoring audience.

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Holly clearly loved to be back in his home town.

It was a sell out show – so different, pointed out a smiling Holly – to his 2015 Europa tour when he played to a half-full venue. Reading, Basingstoke, Berkshire

But that was then this is now.

In 2023, he gives the fans what they want on this critically-acclaimed UK tour – 90 minutes of hits and tracks from the Frankie back – catalogue and his best-selling and iconic Blast album.

He sold out his October concert in hours and added an extra Liverpool date which also saw a full house.

It was, for me, as a critic one of the rare very happy occasions when I knew every song having followed FGTH's career and Holly's solo output.

Holly is as charismatic as ever and opened with a blistering Warriors of the Wasteland followed by Welcome to the Pleasuredome (last heard when the original band performed for the Eurovision celebrations).

In between songs he reminisced about his time growing up in Liverpool.

London-based for the past 40 years, Holly has never forgotten his roots.

His voice is as distinctive as ever and his faultless five-piece band shone on all the solo classics from 1989 including Americanos, Love Train, Atomic City and Heaven's Here.

State-of-the-art graphics in a back screen complemented each dip into the past notably on the perennial pop masterpiece Relax.

Rage Hard, Two Tribes and Watching the Wildlife illustrated that the Frankies were always a class act.

Holly's solo material such as Perfume also stand the test of time.

He left the stage to return for a stunning encore dressed in a white suit (and gloves of course) and proudly declaring he would end with his favourite song of all . . . one that is 'not just for Christmas.'

The Power of Love sealed a triumphant return.

A glorious, slick and beautifully balanced set from a true pop star in every sense of the word.

Verdict: Holly Daze!

Five stars

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