Re-Living The Moody Blues At the King Center
By Chris Long // May 23, 2012
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA • THE KING CENTER – An estimated 100,000 hippies converged on San Francisco in 1967 for the “Summer of Love” while the Six Day War ensued and the Vietnam War escalated.
The Johnson administration was ramping down and the Nixon era was revving up.
Musical boundaries were being erased and unchartered waters were being explored in 1967 as The Beatles dropped “Sgt. Pepper,” The Who “sold out,” Jimi Hendrix got “experienced” and a twenty-year-old kid from London quietly released his debut record to little fanfare — however, within just a couple of years, David Bowie would become a true rock icon.
And it was in 1967 when a struggling, mid-level British rock combo called The Moody Blues released its sophomore LP. After experiencing a near total personnel overhaul, the fledgling band was moving away from its R&B roots in 1967 and developing a more unique and experimental sound — incorporating an orchestra into its increasingly intricate arrangements. The end result was the now legendary concept record, “Days of Future Passed.”
45th Anniversary World Tour
And in 2012, The Moody Blues have embarked on a world tour to commemorate the 45th anniversary of this groundbreaking achievement.
With original keyboardist Mike Pinder having left the band under dubious circumstances in the late ‘70s and flautist Ray Thomas’ retirement in 2002, remaining semi-original guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge along with founding drummer Graeme Edge have continued to carry the torch, keeping the Moody Blues grand musical tradition alive (and well) for the last decade.
The predominantly 50-60-something King Center audience cheered like tweenagers at a Bieber meet-and-greet as Hayward, Lodge and Edge took the stage at approximately 8:10PM.
Kicking off the show with “Gemini Dream” and “The Voice” — a double dose from the 1981, chart-topping “Long Distance Voyager” record, the band delivered a high-energy, two-hour performance featuring such signature “must play” biggies as “Your Wildest Dreams,” “Isn’t Life Strange,” “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” and “Question” as well as “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin” — a pair from the aforementioned “Days of Future Passed.”
While Hayward presents a (very) laid back, Perry Como-meets-rock and roll onstage persona (I saw him blink, twice), Lodge remains full of rock star swagger and energy — exuding charisma as he worked the stage — winking and wiggling, dancing and prancing, much to the delight of his adoring fans.
And although Edge’s onstage role initially appeared limited to merely that of a second-chair drummer, he miraculously sprung to life following the intermission when he commandeered the mic, and led the band through an outrageously fun and quite spirited version of the 1969 fan favorite, “Higher and Higher.”
No Lounge-Type Presentation
The Moody Blues concert seemingly had become “The Graeme Edge Show” — and it was awesome!
Make no mistake, despite their ages (Hayward-65, Lodge-66, Edge-70) and the fact that their music has been around longer than some of their fans have been alive, this was no lounge-type presentation.
In fact, with their state-of-the-art concert lighting, humongous, rear-stage HD-like video screen and generous use of obligatory fog/smoke machines, this show looked as impressive as any arena headliner currently on the road.
As for the audio, simply put, the band sounded studio-perfect. And given that the show took place at such a world-class venue as The King Center, only further enhanced the experience.
But these days the touring version of the band includes seven onstage musicians. And therein lies the delightful bonus of The Moody Blues’ live show — the impeccable musicianship, energy and charm of the support cast.
Drummer Gordon Marshall has assumed first-chair duty with the band for a couple of lengthy runs during the last 20 years, and as a newcomer, acknowledged session player/producer Alan Hewitt makes for a perfect fit on keyboards.
But there’s nothing like the tried and true chick factor to make a rock show sizzle, and keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Julie Ragins and flautist/vocalist Norda Mullen both proved to be true shining stars in their own right as well as complementing the ensemble.
Outstanding job! Let’s get together and do it again sometime — SOON!