March 30, 2015 The Moody Blues fantastic musical journey NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY 3-27-15
Through the years, English Rock band The Moody Blues have been one of the most innovative in the genre. Setting course over five decades ago as one of the pioneers in Progressive Rock, fusing in Classic elements, The Moody Blues have sold over fifty-five million record worldwide and achieved an amazing eighteen platinum and gold albums. While the faces of the members may have changed through the years, original drummer Graeme Edge, along with long-time vocalist/bassist John Lodge, as well as guitarist Justin Hayward, remains the band’s nucleus as they continue to tour internationally. Despite having not released any new material since their final album in 2003, entitled December, the band still captures the imagination of a range of generations as they perform their classic material. Now in 2015, The Moody Blues return to North America for what they are calling the Timeless Flight — The Polydor Years tour in support of the The Polydor Years 1986-1992 collection released on November 24, 2014. Kicked off in Worcester, MA on March 19th, The Moody Blues found themselves at NYCB Theatre in Westbury, NY on Friday March 27th. A familiar surrounding for the band, they have graced the in-the-round stage many times prior, and see Long Island as a place of comfort. With the initial show selling out quickly, a second, as well as third performance was announced for March 28th and 29th. As vehicles arrived at the packed NYCB Theatre at Westbury on the opening night of The Moody Blues’ weekend stay, the parking lot was overwhelmed, and judging by the buzz of enthusiasm, no one seemed to mind as they were ready for a magical evening.
With so much history to cover, and so little time, The Moody Blues promptly kicked off the first portion of two sets at 8:15 PM to a roar of cheers as they played 1981’s “Gemini Dream.” As the mix of keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums filled the air it was clear the band had a lot of excitement ahead as they went into another Long Distance Voyager (1981) track titled “The Voice,” before transiting into 1978’s “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone” as well as 1972’s “You and Me.” Having already rocked a colorful mix of tunes, with little breaks in between, the band took the moment to address the massive audience as they rotated ever so subtly, giving everyone a chance in the round to see each member of the band. Cracking jokes and in high spirits, Lodge seemed right at home before they went into the spacey “Gypsy (Of a Strange and Distant Time)” and the beautiful “Nervous.” Featuring an outstanding performance by Norda Mullen of Flute, the latter track could be one of The Moody Blues best, and many may question why it did not attain its just commercial success. Introducing the next song from their 1991 album Keys of the Kingdom, “Say it With Love” saw a vocal harmonization between Hayward and award winning keyboardist Alan Hewitt. Keeping the audience enthralled with an array of songs from all over their discography, Lodge painted a vivid picture of the 1960’s era, and the dawning of one of Rock’s most important times. Immersed in the time warp, everyone applauded when they went into “Peak Hour” from the 1967 concept album Days of Future Passed before fan-favorite “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” when everyone clapped in unison, danced, and sang along. On their feet and having a grand time the upbeat tempo was kept moving for the opening set’s finale “The Story in Your Eyes” where Hayward sang affectionately and breezed through the heavier guitar riff, along with Edge and Gordon Marshall’s double drum attack.
A fine way to close out the opening set, after a twenty minute intermission allowing fans to indulge in conversation about the songs they just heard, many were overheard speculating of what was in store for the second portion of the show. With that said, if the opening set was not well-balanced enough, when they began again with “Your Wildest Dreams” everyone was on their feet and smiling ear to ear. Showing their ability to still keep the anticipation high through a lengthy performance, The Moody Blues’ vitality was solidified by the young, talented, mutli-instrumentalist Julie Ragins who played an intricate part in bringing each song to life all night long. Marrying the youth that is in all, with the wisdom that comes with age, the emotional “Isn’t Life Strange” was greeted with a standing ovation upon its conclusion. It was during this moment the band clearly was overwhelmed by the response surrounding them, giving it a moment to sink in, and stating it was great to be back. As simple words were spoken, it was the expressions on Edge, Lodge, and Hayward’s faces that told a warm story of appreciation for their followers.
Rolling along into another favorite, “Tuesday Afternoon,” the moment finally came for founding member, Edge, to take the microphone and speak in poetic fashion before going into the Neil Armstrong inspired track “Higher and Higher.” Walking around the stage faster than it can rotate, Edge had everyone praising his energy, as he showed no sign that his seventy-third birthday was two days away. Bringing attention to the fact that The Moody Blues were celebrating fifty-one years together had the audience simply in awe of their ability to keep going over time. Jamming into “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” “Late Lament” was a perfect segue into the iconic “Nights in White Satin.” As the audience quieted down to a hush, in order to revel in the true beauty of the piece, The Moody Blues did the song the justice it deserves with haunting vocals and instrumentation that had emotions running wild. On their feet and cheering louder than any point in the night, the audience was treated to closing 1970 song “Question.” Begun with the classic shimmering acoustic guitar work of Hayward, the rendition had many dancing in front of their seats, and even the aisles. With hopes for one final encore to cap off the night, The Moody Blues delivered a energized version of “Ride My See-Saw,” sending everyone off on Rock-n-Roll heaven’s cloud nine.
The Moody Blues are perhaps one of the most important bands in the history and progression of Rock-n-Roll. Their ingenuity to delivery deep lyric concepts along with varied styles still rang supreme all these years later. Above all, their longevity is one of the most impressive aspects of their storied career, as they show no signs of slowing down fifty plus years later. Their visit to NYCB Theatre at Westbury was just another fond memory for their dedicated fans who traveled from far and wide to come see them. With their latest tour running through May, tickets are going fast, so do not miss a chance to be part of Rock-n-Roll history.