Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review from the Archives: The Moody Blues at River Stage, NYC 7/30/90

[Editor’s note: it’s not like we haven’t been out in awhile. The Lenny Molotov/Les Chauds Lapins doublebill at Pete’s last Thursday was a sonic fiasco but excellent nonetheless. A trip upstate over the weekend proved to be no respite from the heat. Back on Monday, we decided to treat ourselves to Chicha Libre’s last Barbes show of the summer (they’ll be back in September after a tour), and then a quick couple of trains over to Williamsburg to catch Rev. Vince Anderson’s first set. But all of these people you know, that is, if you know this site at all (if you don’t, we’ve given these acts a lot of press, because they’re so good: you can find out all about them if you go to the index). In the meantime, to keep the front page fresh, here’s one from way, way back in the day.]

Veteran cosmic rockers the Moody Blues gave a sweeping, majestic performance – far from being over the hill, the band looks better than ever, and the chemistry between band members is impressive. It’s hard to imagine another band looking so relaxed and having such a good time onstage. Their new sound is a mix of lush synth orchestration combined with frontman/guitarist Justin Hayward’s powerful, jangly rhythm playing. The sound mix was superb, especially for an outdoor show, allowing Hayward’s invariably interesting solos and Marty Willson-Piper style chordal work to cut through the huge, majestic wash of string synth. With such an interesting treatment, all the old chestnuts sounded brand-new. They opened with Never Comes the Day, a surprising choice considering that it was an album cut that didn’t get radio airplay, but it set the tone of the night as they dug in and cranked it up loud. Nights in White Satin (without the long spoken-word intro on the album, or the gong at the end, for that matter) was the big crowd-pleaser, also turned into a big, blazing rocker in contrast to the lush, uber-romantic version on the album. Likewise, an energetic version of Tuesday Afternoon was short and sweet. The Voice was surprisingly hot, driven by fiery, distorted Hayward guitar work. Story in Your Eyes was as loud and driving as anticipated, but not up to the level of fury on the record. The high point of the night was a towering, guitar-driven version of I Know You’re Out There Somewhere. With all the cheesy electronics and slick production, the single doesn’t pack much of a punch, but this did. Stripped down to just the four band members – who’ve been together as a unit since Days of Future Passed – along with the duo of backup singers and Patrick Moraz on keys – it was reinvented as a janglerock anthem, Hayward playing his big, vintage red Gretsch with propulsive, clanging fire. Ultimately, it’s a song about redemption, about finally finding your muse after having lost it for a long time, and the longing and exhilaration of that struggle couldn’t have been more intensely put across than it was tonight.

They closed the show segueing from Legend of a Mind into The Question and then their usual closer, the riff-rocking Ride My See-Saw. By the end of the show, we’d finished a whole bottle of rum, smoked probably a pack of Newports and then, seeing the popcorn stand unattended, made off with a gigantic, four-foot brick of crunchy deliciousness that would ultimately last more than a week. No doubt all this enhanced the overall experience.

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July 30, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews

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