First time seeing a rock concert at the O2 (my previous trip was to see my daughter performing as part of the massed choirs in Voice In A Million) and it’s an impressive venue, with a sound better than Wembley Arena. Not a full auditorium by any means, a ¾ full arena and although the audience may be in their advancing years they certainly showed plenty of life and enjoyment when the Moody Blues took to the stage.
Since I last saw the band some ten years ago at the Royal Albert Hall original member Ray Thomas (flute/vocals/percussion) has retired leaving drummer Graeme Edge as last man standing (or sitting as he is the drummer!) of the original members, as both John Lodge and Justin Hayward didn’t join the band until 1966 with the band forming in 1964.
But if you count classic Moody Blues as kicking off with their 1967 album ‘Days Of Future Passed’ then this trio are keeping the Moody Blues musical flame alive. Joining them are Gordon Marshall (drums/percussion), Norda Mullen (flute/guitar/percussion/vocals), Julie Ragins (keys/percussion/guitar/sax/vocals) and Alan Hewitt (keyboards/vocals). For sleeve note trivia buffs like myself, Alan Hewitt played keys on Warrant’s ‘Cherry Pie’ album and he had the rock star moves when playing his keyboards tonight.
An interesting set list based on their recent ‘Timeless Flight’ box set and two CD highlights set, featuring the hits the fans expect along with a few treats like the 60’s psychedelic rock of ‘Peak Hour’ and ‘Drift Wood’.
Like a few concerts I have seen of late the band used video screens at the back to show various photos of them in the past (a lot of face foliage on view in the 60′s and 70′s shots) and a few ‘spacey’ images to go with the music and lasers.
Over two hours (with a much needed interval judging by the rush to the loos) of classic songs and it was good to hear that both Justin Hayward and John Lodge have lost none of their vocal powers. The harmonies on ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ were stunning, as was ‘I Know You’re Out There’, one of their all time classic songs in my humble opinion.
Of the supporting musicians Norda Mullen ably filled in on the flute parts of Ray Thomas and Gordon Marshall’s drumming allowed Graeme Edge to take it easier, which is fair enough as he is now 72 and with the drums you can’t really keep still like the rest of the band. He did come to the stage front to narrate part of ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ and crack a few jokes.
The two real stand outs of the night were their best known tune ‘Nights In White Satin’, which had the crowd on their feet and an amazing version of ‘Question’, that rounded off the main set. The band played and looked like they had been doing this all their lives on ‘Question’, whereas many of the backing band have only joined in the past few years. A very special moment in an enjoyable night of music.
Encore time we have ‘Ride My See-Saw’ and by then the band and most of the audience had given their all and it was time to voyage off into the joys of traveling home after a gig…
An interesting set as I was expecting just the hits and the well known album choices, from a band who truly are one of the best bands to come out of the UK. If you get a chance to see them live don’t hesitate and get along to see them as you will have a great time.
Review by Jason Ritchie
Photos by Noel Buckley
Photo Gallery by Steve Goudie
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Power Plays w/c 14 October (Mon-Fri)
SANGUINE Ignite (Odyssey Music)
GOODBYE JUNE Switchblade Heart (Earache)
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SCARLET REBELS Heal (indie)
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KEYWEST C’est La Vie (indie)
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12:00-13:00 ECLIPSE Paradigm (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 GALLAGHER & LYLE Live at De Montfort Hall, 1977 (The Store For Music)
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