What a long, strange trip it's been for the UK's the Moody Blues. The band began as a pub rock group and then morphed into what some rock historians say is the first prog rock act.
Then, in the '80s and '90s, it churned out pop hits that received commercial radio airplay.
The band has yet to receive induction into the Rock Hall, but its longevity isn't the issue. Consistency might be.
Last night at Hard Rock Live, the band brought its 50th Anniversary of Days of Future Passed tour to the venue, where it played an opening set of hits and then performed 1967's Days of Future Passed
in its entirety before returning for a two-song encore.
The results were rather mixed.
The first set started strong with “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” a rollicking garage rock number that the band delivered with reckless energy thanks in part to the two drummers who hammered away in unison. Even though they didn’t entirely play in sync, they gave the song some real power.
Other songs from the opening set didn’t fare as well. “Say It With Love” had a Yacht Rock feel and “Nervous” came off a syrupy ballad. Guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge harmonized well on “Your Wildest Dreams” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” but the songs featured greeting card sentiments that contrasted with the band's psychedelic side. “The Story in Your Eyes,” a tune that kicked off with a bit of flute, came off as a colorless tune for the PBS crowd.
After a 20-minute break, the band returned to play Days of Future Passed in its entirety. The album’s gestation is notable. The band’s record label at the time, Decca Records, had requested that the group record an album to test “stereo recording.” The band originally planned to record a rock version of Dvorak’s 9th Symphony. In its place, it came up with the concept of fusing classical music with rock and wrote Days of Future Passed
, one full album without breaks, chronicling “a day in the life of” a person.
For the performance of the album, the band used a high defition video screen that appropriately showed time lapse videos of morning, noon and night. Inexplicably, the band chose to use an inferior low resolution screen for the concert's first half.
Actor Jeremy Irons appeared on the video screen to recite “Morning Glory” and "Late Lament," the spoken word segments of the album originally performed on the 1967 LP by keyboard player Mike Pinder, who no longer plays with the band. The set included the classic “Tuesday Afternoon,” which benefited from a heavy organ riff and a flourish of faux strings at the end, and closed with the album’s final track, the trippy “Nights in White Satin,” which the band performed under the glare of bright white lights.
The group's two-song encore emphasized the band’s garage rock side with “Question” and the Beatles-like “Ride My See-Saw.” The rousing performances of both tunes (finally) brought the sold-out crowd to its feet.