The Moody Blues - Casino Rama, Orillia - August 8, 2014 Moody Blues Prove they can Still Move and Thrill an Audience after Five Decades By Jim Barber Founding Moody Blues drummer/poet Graeme Edge had the line of the night Friday evening at Casino Rama, when he spoke of 2014 being the venerable British Band’s 50th anniversary. “I started in this band when I was 22, so you can do the math. But recently this young student came up and said she wanted to date me … she was a history student and wanted to carbon date me,” Edge said to uproarious laughter from the jam-packed crowd, the first of two sold-out night in the venue. And it truly was the celebration of a band whose music is as vital as it has been in the intervening five decades. While it was primarily a hit filled 90 minute set, there were a few nuggets of awesomeness for long-time fans, including the eminently psychedelic romp Peak Hour from the 1967 concept album Days of Future Past, as well as the Edge-penned poetic dalliance Higher and Higher from To Our Children’s Children’s Children which came out in 1969. The title of the band’s tour is Timeless Flight and it couldn’t be more apt as the evening truly was a transcendent experience for a completely appreciative crowd. The music of the Moody Blues is so evocative, the melodies and song structures so perfectly balanced emotionally, but also incredibly ethereal and heartening. It really was an experience where the music and the show was so enthralling one did not notice the passage of time. The band’s pre-1980s material was particularly impactful, with the highlights for this reviewer being the simply breathtaking renditions of Tuesday Afternoon, Ride My See Saw and an absolutely epic version of The Question. But all the material was played with aplomb by long-time members Justin Hayward (vocals/guitar) and John Lodge (bass/vocals), both of whom joined the band in 1965, as well as Edge who shared drumming duties with Gordon Marshall. Backing up the legendary trio was back-up vocalist/guitarist/flautist Norda Mullen, keyboardist Alan Hewitt and sax player/keyboardist/back-up vocalist Julie Ragins – all virtuosic in their own right. From The Story in Your Eyes, through 1980s hits Gemini Dream (which opened the show) to Say it With Love, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere and Your Wildest Dreams the show never slacked or slowed, reaching the emotional peak with the band’s biggest hit, Nights in White Satin followed by I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band. Hayward’s voice is still impeccable offering many ‘goose bump’ moments, and his lead guitar playing was deft, subtle and effective, while Lodge was also in fine voice and demonstrated passion and energy that belied his 69 years. With Hayward the youngest of the original trio at 67, it’s still hard to see The Moody Blues ending their run any time soon. While the crowd was predominantly older, there were a number of younger ‘hippies’ as Lodge called them, and many two and even three-generation families at the event, demonstrating once again that good music is good music and, like the band’s show itself, transcends so many boundaries.
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