Hell yes. I had seen promos for the MBs on public television. ("Moody Blues at Redrocks" which I passed on as I do virtually everything public television trots out for pledge purposes.) I haven't bought an album by them since the mid-seventies and by the end of the seventies their unique progressive sound was...well...dated. In the late seventies I was busy getting my disco on and doing my best to cast my wild oats as often and as wildly as possible.
I had low expectations going in to the performance venue. It looked like a AARP convention. Anyone without gray hair and a lifetime of wrinkles on their face was assumed to be the adult child of someone who probably pledged a membership to public television and was being dragged along. I rarely feel young when I go to any venue but in this place I was positively a youngster.
To cut to the chase, the show was awesome, and I have spent many happy hours since then digging out my MB albums and downloading tunes I have lost over the years. They opened with "The Voice" which was eh...decent opening tune, but not a legendary hit. Those were to come. Yay. The opening tune gave the audience the chance to observe that...cheese and crackers!...these guys are old. Really old. There are only three members touring these days. I learned later on that ray Thomas (you know...mustache...flute playing Moody) was diagnosed with Prostate cancer and has "retired." A shame. He was, for me, the face of the Moody Blues. I wish him the best.
Justin Heywood (guitar) is too damn good looking for a guy his age. He is the ultimate boomer sex symbol...still sounds great. Carries the guitar work all by himself on stage folks. Trim. I want his hair.
John Lodge is looking well past his sell-by date. Here is this much older looking face (looks like a homeless guy down on his luck) but atop his head is what I imagine must be a hairpiece. It is nothing short of right out of the glamrock days of the 80s! Hysterical. "Scorpion" from the forehead up, years of girls, drugs, booze, and their inevitable effects from the forehead down.
But he still ROCKS that bass guitar. And if you know your Moody Blues tunes, you know the bass line in "Story in Your Eyes" could leave younger bass players crouched in a heap whimpering "oh...the pain...the pain!" as they look upon their throbbing fingers. Lodge never missed a beat the entire night.
That leaves Graeme Edge (drummer) who looked like he was channeling Colonel Sanders (of fried chicken fame) with his head of pure white hair and pointed goatee. He had a younger back up drummer handling the heavy drum tasks, but still played along and it was great to see him. About halfway into the show edge came down from his drums to a mike placed upstage for him. He thanked everyone for attending then announced 1) he had just celebrated his 74th birthday (holy shit!!!!) and 2) the Moody Blues were coming up on their 50th anniversary. (double holy shit!!!)
Imagine the crowd going wild. No...imagine WILDER.
They did an awesome set, playing the big hits...hits that sounded as great as wee remembered them in the sixties. The three youngish musicians (flute, sax/keyboard, keyboard) did a great job of reproducing a sound that was at least 20 years older than any one of them. At 35 minutes the band abruptly laid down their instruments, bowed, and scooted off stage. I thought.."Wow, that's it? No encore?" My friend leaned over and said "intermission."
Intermission! Holy crap! I have seen younger, bigger acts that would have called it a night at the end of the first set.
The second half started with a poignant version of "Isn't Life Strange" made all the cooler and stranger by Lodge's hairpiece.
With a couple of minor exceptions, every tune was cooked to perfection. The classics: Question. Ride My Seesaw. Story in Your Eyes. You and Me. Wildest Dreams. I'm Just a Player in a Rock and Roll Band. Say it With Love. Higher and Higher.
...and yes. Nights in White Satin. And it was perfect. Even without the strings at the end. Graeme Edge rose from his drums and delivered the "Lament" poem at the end. There is a point, which all good boomers know by heart, where the poem goes" senior citizens wish they were young." As he delivered that line, Edge paused ever so slightly and made a sort of "nah, not really" facial expression and the whole audience picked it up and laughed.
From our vantage point in row 7 I could see literally everyone...EVERYONE in the seats around us was standing, their lips moving as they recited the Lament along with Edge. I raised my camera to capture this phenomenon, and it was only then that I noticed EVERYONE had either teary eyes, or the tears were trickling down their cheeks. I lowered my camera.
I am haunted by that moment. Probably hundreds of baby boomers in tears as the most perfect poem of their youth was recited. One can only imagine how many children were conceived to Nights in White Satin, and now, with the lion's share of their lives behind them, these words, this group has reconnected an entire performing arts center of aging fans with a happy memory of happier, simpler times. The applause at the end went on and on and on...
Oh, that you could have been there to see it...to hear it. it was quite honestly a perfect moment.
Thanks to my friend Nick for bring me along. It was amazing. I have seen some of the biggest names in entertainment...from Sinatra, Martin, and Davis at the Sands, to Tim Curry performing a spot-on karaoke performance of Billie Holiday singing "God Bless The Child" in a dive pub in Soho in the 90s.
But this night was really, sincerely, something special.