The Moody Blues (Justin Hayward, Graeme Edge and John Lodge, from left) performed at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston Monday night.
By BILL BROTHERTON
BOSTON — Fifty years ago, the Moody Blues released their groundbreaking concept album “Days of Future Passed.” The British band, a mediocre R&B outfit at the time, reinvented itself, merging classical orchestral music with folk, rock, psychedelia and hippy-dippy poetry. It was one of the earliest examples of prog rock and its influence on popular music was immense; still is.
Monday night at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on Boston’s unrecognizable, overdeveloped Seaport, the Moodies – Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge (Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas are enjoying retirement) – performed the album from start to finish. It remains as comforting as a hot cup of tea after a long, stressful day.
There was no full orchestra or Mellotron this time; four musicians (two on synths, a flutist and a second drummer who did the heavy lifting for 76-year-old Edge) accompanied Hayward and Lodge throughout the two-hour show. The album’s two big hits – “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin” – were glorious, loud singalongs. “Nights in White Satin” was especially wonderful, a nostalgic ramble down memory lane, aided immeasurably by Hayward’s 12-string guitar playing and Norda Mullen’s flute. The near capacity crowd hoisted their cellphones to capture the moment, while couples stole kisses and affectionately squeezed each other’s hands. The sound mix was exquisite and fans responded with a long standing ovation.
Properly-British Hayward, 70, still wears his silver hair in that long, oh-so-perfect-Neil-Diamond-like early-’70s style, and his voice remains strong and expressive. Lodge, 71, was a more animated, flamboyant frontman, encouraging audience participation and shaking his leather-pants-clad tush while holding his bass guitar like a lethal weapon.
The hard-rocking “Twilight Time” from the remarkable side two of “Days of Future Passed” was like a jolt of double-espresso after its quieter predecessors. A series of bucolic and “2001 Space Odyssey”-like videos meandered on a screen behind the band; even actor Jeremy Irons appeared (on video), perfectly enunciating the spoken word bits.
The show opened with a nine-song greatest hits set. “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” and “The Voice” started things in fine fashion, though the sound mix was a bit muddled at first. Three so-so songs (“Steppin in a Slide Zone,” “Say it With Love” and “Nervous”) slowed the momentum a bit, but the Moodies rebounded with terrific versions of “Your Wildest Dreams,” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” and “The Story in Your Eyes.” “Isn’t Life Strange” was particularly fine, graceful, beautiful … and it rocked.
The band encored with megahit “Question” and “Ride my See-Saw.”
The Moody Blues have never gotten the respect they deserve. They are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; hell, they’ve never been nominated. It’s about time that egregious oversight is corrected.
Bill Brotherton is the Item’s Features editor. Tell him what you think at [email protected]