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Musings and Meanderings
Friday, November 21, 2003
After a two year hiatus I saw the Moody Blues again at the Palace Theater in Albany tonight. What a wonderful show. They play all the "favorites" that they always do. This year they are supporting their new album called December which is a combination of covers of old Christmas Tunes and new ones they have written over the last two years.
The band consists of only three original members now a days, Ray has retired from touring due to gout or something awful that makes standing and walking very painful. His flute playing, especially in Timothy Leary will be sorely missed in my book. Of course Mike Pinder left after the "core 7" albums and his place on the tours have been filled by various well and not so well known keyboardists. At 62 the oldest member of the band is Graeme (the drummer) who did all those wonderful poems, such as the one after Nights in White Satin. Justin (guitar) and John (bass) are in their late 50's.
To fill out the band sound which is rich and lush on their studio albums they carry and extra drummer (who does trades sticks with the original drummer during a song) two keyboardists - male and female, and now due to Ray not touring a flutist who also plays a mean guitar and sings beautifully.
As usual the crowd was an eclectic mix of old and young, men and (mostly) women, couples and groups of friends. It was especially cool to see the parents with their teen aged children. I got a wonderful ticket through a great lady I know from the Internet MB discussion group called lost chords. I was fifth row left and had a marvelous view of the new flutist.
Justin still just floors me in his ability to hit those notes! The only downside was in the "big numbers" as I call them, when every one was singing, you could definitely hear Ray's voice was missing. I had an insight as well when John was singing how much his voice reminded me of what John Lennon might be sounding like now. Of course the mix wasn't perfect and I've never had that insight from studio work but it was interesting. I think they are the same age. They did a song which was originally a tribute to the Moon Landing called Higher and Higher, which is one of their songs set to a Graem's poems. He was wearing a red shirt which said Ho Ho Ho on it (he looks like Santa with a wonderful "Jerry" beard and full head of white hair) and he just strutted his stuff on stage. It was a riot and he was obviously having a great time.
I really got a feel for the deeper roots of the MB's last night in the rock and roll from the late 50's. As you know I come to the Moody Blues from "Progressive" being a massive fan of all things art rock. But it was interesting to perceive the underlying "roots" of rock and roll in their music. One thing that seemed completely absurd to me, was that John after a song would point to various members of the audience and then do a thumbs up or a finger up or something. Now you can't see jack from a stage. It was so bizarrely plastic that he seemed a parody of himself.
All in all it was a wonderfully moving experience. As always. This is the third time I've seen them in five years and I'll never miss a show till they stop touring...
Tomorrow.. Liam Farrell starring in OKLAHOMA!