Moody Blues get joyous welcome at Tent
By RICH HOLMES
August 03, 2007
HYANNIS From their heyday as a studio band known for sweet vocals, flute solos, mystical psychedelia and orchestral arrangements, the Moody Blues have built a wide following and become a muscular performance band.
While some other bands their age lifelessly pound out the same songs, the Moodies have forged new life by adding younger members and focusing on tightly played tunes and a solid rhythm section. Thursday nights performance at the Cape Cod Melody Tent, the first in a two-night stand, displayed a vitality and joy in the music and their fans admiration. The enthusiastic audience greeted the British band with a standing ovation, the first of many, and kept clapping and singing throughout the nearly two-hour sold-out set.
The Moodies opened with Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon) from their 1967 Days of Future Passed album. Recent addition Paul Bliss captured the reedy Mellotron sound on his synthesizer an element integral to so many of the bands songs from the late 1960s and early 70s. They then switched to a softer ballad, Lean on Me Tonight, from their 1991 Keys to the Kingdom. It was the first of many songs that showcased the flute-playing of Norda Mullen, who also occasionally played guitar. Her strong musicianship filled a niche left by the 2003 retirement of founding member and flutist Ray Thomas.
The other standout among newer band members was drummer Gordon Marshall, who added power and color to the drumming of original member Graeme Edge. Marshall drove the bands songs with dynamic rhythm and accented key moments with his percussion and showmanship. He climbed atop his drums to smash large cymbals during the crescendo of Im Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band) and during the intro of the encore. He also played second flute in several songs.
Marshall helped transform old folky melodies with poetic lyrics into bouncy pop songs that sometimes accelerated into real rockers. This from a band whose catalog might more be characterized as precious and melodramatic than for cranking it up. And the Moodies did crank it up on several tunes, especially toward the end of the second half of the show.
The pumped section of the show began when Edge came out from behind his drum kit after a tender December Snow from the Moodies last studio album to introduce Higher and Higher.
That was from a few years ago, he said. Now one we did about four decades ago.
Edge, who looked like Jerry Garcia with his glasses and flowing white beard and hair, bounced around the rim of the stage, clapping a tambourine above his head. The number had leaders Justin Hayward and John Lodge furiously playing as Edge uttered the songs spoken-word lyrics.
In addition to the two-drummer approach, the bass playing of Lodge put a lot of oomph into the delivery. He handled his bass like a lead guitar, thrusting it forward and swinging it to the beat. He also took turns singing with Hayward, the main guitarist and author of most of the bands hits. Lodge dressed the part of quasi-hippie rock god, with long, curly gray hair and linen peasant shirt, open to a chestful of necklaces. He contributed to the upbeat mood by smirking while playing to audience members. The more reserved Hayward put his energy into his high-pitched vocals and precise guitar work.
The band kept the audience happy with hit after hit, including Your Wildest Dreams, Isnt Life Strange? Nights in White Satin, I Know Youre Out There Somewhere and Question. The last tune may have gained some new relevancy with its poignant lyric, Why do we never get an answer when were knocking at the door with a thousand million questions about hate and death and war?
After Lodge thanked the audience for those who have followed us along the journey and keeping the faith, the band wrapped the concert with an encore of Ride My See-Saw. The audience clearly loved going along for the peace, love and spaciness ride.