The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall 22nd June 2015
I foolishly passed the last couple of times that the Moody Blues came to Newcastle; so I figured that it was about time I made amends and caught up with them again. I’m pleased that I did. The set was similar to those that I’d enjoyed on past tours, but there seemed to be a new energy to the band. This went just old guys going through the motions; I could sense that they still enjoy playing. The sound was also sharper and clearer than in the past; I’ve attended a few Moody Blues concerts where the mix was murky, and it was difficult to pick out the vocals. Not this time. I could hear every word that Justin Hayward and John Lodge sang. Hayward’s guitar seemed louder and his playing more fluid than on previous occasions. It was also good to see Graeme Edge come to the front of stage and take the lead on Higher and Higher, with some nifty dad dancing and swift tambourine moves. Those songs from Days of Future Passed always get me. Tuesday Afternoon is just as powerful and classy as Nights in White Satin and it was good to hear Peak Hour. And a Moody Blues concert just isn’t complete unless they close with Question and encore with Ride My See-saw. Great to see them again.
“Cold hearted orb that rules the night, removes the colours from our sight. Red is grey, and yellow, white, but we decide which is right, and which is an illusion.” (The Day Begins, 1967).
Set 1: Gemini Dream; The Voice; Steppin’ in a Slide Zone; You and Me; Gypsy; Nervous; Say It With Love; Peak Hour; I Know You’re Out There Somewhere; The Story in Your Eyes
Set 2: Your Wildest Dreams; Isn’t Life Strange; Tuesday Afternoon; Higher and Higher; The Actor; I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band); Late Lament; Nights in White Satin; Question
Encore: Ride My See-Saw
Archive for the ‘Moody Blues’ Category
The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall 22nd June 2015
The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall 1997 to 2006
I went to four Moody Blues concerts at Newcastle City Hall between 1997 to 2006: in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006. I saw them more recently at the same venue in 2008, and have already written about that concert. The line-up changed over the years, with Patrick Moraz leaving in 1991, and Ray Thomas retiring in 2002. The band continues with the trio of “original” members Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge. Of course the only member who has been with the band from the very start in drummer Graeme. Ray is a miss in the live shows, I found his songs quite different in style to those of Justin and John. Legend of a Mind (which I always thought was called “Timothy Leary’s Dead” 🙂 was a favourite of mine, even if does sound a little dated. I greatly enjoyed all of their gigs, even though the set was becoming predictable.
Typical setlist: The Voice; Tuesday Afternoon; For My Lady; English Sunset; Words You Say; Strange Times; Steppin’ in a Slide Zone; Haunted; I Know You’re Out There; Story in Your Eyes. Intermission. Your Wildest Dreams; Isn’t Life Strange; The Other Side of Life; Nothing Changes; I’m Just a Singer; Nights in White Satin; Legend of a Mind; Question. Encore: Ride My See-Saw.
I’ve foolishly missed the Moody Blues the last couple of times that they have visited Newcastle. I must make the effort to see them next time. Nothing can touch the classic albums that the Moody Blues produced in the late 60s and very early 70s.
“Timothy Leary’s dead. No, no, no, no, He’s outside looking in. Timothy Leary’s dead. No, no, no, no, He’s outside looking in. He’ll fly his astral plane, Takes you trips around the bay, Brings you back the same day, Timothy Leary. Timothy Leary.” (Thomas, 1968).
The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall 1981 and 1984
After not touring for a long time, the Moody Blues began to tour extensively, coming to the UK every couple of years. I saw them at Newcastle City Hall in 1981 and 1984. Their concerts started to take a similar format, which to some extent they still follow to this day, consisting of two sets with an intermission, and no support act. The setlist would consist of the classic tracks, with some new songs (less new songs these days). My favourite “Tuesday Afternoon” would come quite early in the evening, while one of the other songs I would wait to hear, “Nights in White Satin”, would be played towards the end of the show. The hit “Question” would be the last song, and the encore was always “Ride my See-Saw”, which is as much rock’n’roll as you will get in a Moody Blues concert. Predictable, yes, but also always high quality and always a good show. I find it strange how the Moodies have “disowned” their early incarnation, and never ever play Go Now or anything from their first album, “The Magnificent Moodies”. I have a copy of that 1965 debut lp, and its actually pretty good. I understand, of course, that the band changed out of all recognition in terms of membership and style in 1967, but it would still be good to see them play Go Now just once :), and, at least in the 1980s, two members (Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge) remained from that original 1960s line-up.
The 1981 tour was to promote “Long Distance Voyager” and the 1984 tour, which was in aide of NSPCC (the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), promoted new lp (and they were still lps in those days) “The Present”. From the 1981 tour programme: “The Moody Blues blast off into musical orbit for ’81 with their first new album for two years, ‘Long Distance Voyager’ featuring ex-Yes Keyboard ace Patrick Moraz for the first time on record, in company with original members, Justin Hayward (vocals-guitar) Ray Thomas (flute) John Lodge (bass) and Graeme Edge (drums). Although the Voyager album is the group’s first original concept since ‘Octave’ in 1978, the group has been continuously in demand throughout the world and Moraz is already the veteran of several U.S. tours where the group retain legendary proportions.”
From the 1984 tour programme: “The facts are that The Moody Blues have sold in excess of 30 million albums worldwide since their inception in 1964, that they have more platinum albums than any other surviving super-group and that their last release “Long Distance Voyager” was number one on the American charts. Their new LP, “The Present,” proves once again that The Moody Blues’ strong melodic structure within a rock framework has enduring appeal.”
Setlist from 1984: Gemini Dream; Sitting At The Wheel; Tuesday Afternoon; The Voice; Steppin’ In A Slide Zone; The Story in Your Eyes; Painted Smile; Reflective Smile; Veteran Cosmic Rocker; Driftwood. Intermission. Talking Out Of Turn; Running Water; Gypsy; Isn’t Life Strange; Blue World; I’m Just a Singer; Nights in White Satin; Legend of a Mind; Question. Encore: Ride My See-Saw
Blue Jays Newcastle City Hall 1975
While we were waiting for The Moody Blues to return from their hiatus, Justin Hayward and John Lodge called at Newcastle City Hall, as the Blue Jays. Blue Jays is a 1975 album by Hayward and Lodge, which was recorded and released during the Moody Blues’ five-year break from recording, apparently in part for contractual reasons to fill the gap in Moodies output. According to Hayward: “I was under a lot of pressure from Decca to come up with something to release. So I actually went to America to do something with Mike [Pinder], between the two of us. Then Tony Clarke and John [Lodge] turned up at Mike’s house as well. Mike took me in the other room and said, “I don’t want to work with anybody else. I’m out of this project.” So then it became me and John and Tony Clarke, and we made an album called Blue Jays.” The title “Blue Jays” had a couple of meanings; first it is of course the name of a bird; secondly however it refers to the fact that the album was put together by the Moody Blues members whose names began with J; the (Moody) Blue J’s.
This was the closest we were going to get to seeing the Moodies in concert, indeed at that time I feared that they may never tour again, so my friend Ian and I took the opportunity to see two of their front men at our local venue.
The set comprised a mix of songs from the Blue Jays album, including the hit single Blue Guitar and some Moody Blues classics; including Nights in White Satin and Question. It was a great gig, and almost as good as seeing the full band (but not quite :)). Support came from Aj Webber.
From the tour programme: “For Justin Hayward and John Lodge 1975 has been a year of change. At the end of the Moody Blues World Tour which ended in 1974 Justin and John took the first step on a road which has brought them to their current British tour. The step was an album conceived, written and recorded in their own Threshold recording studio. Today, the spirit of this album – which was baptised ‘Blue Jays’ – now begins to grow with Justin and John embarking upon a tour of Great Britain…Justin and John have a few good friends on the road with them. A few years ago during an American tour they met three musicians from Idaho – Jim Cockey, Tim Tompkins and Tom Tompkins. Jim, Tim and Tom have been part of the Threshold family ever since then – firstly through their own album, ‘Ever Sense The Dawn’ when they were a part of a band called Providence, and more recenly working with Justin and John on ‘BlueJays’. Two other old friends from the Threshold family are also with Justin and John on this journey – Mel Galley and Dave Holland from Trapeze.”
Setlist: Saved by the Music; Remember Me, My Friend; The Story in Your Eyes; This Morning; You; You and Me; My Brother; Isn’t Life Strange. Intermission. Who Are You Now; New Horizons; Emily’s Song; I Dreamed Last Night; Nights in White Satin; I’m Just a Singer; Blue Guitar; When You Wake Up. Encore: Question
The Moody Blues Glasgow Apollo 1979
My parents got their first stereo system in the late 60s. It consisted of a Garrard turntable, a separate amplifier and a couple of speakers. Around the same time my uncle bought a lovely HMV Stereogram. It was a wonderful piece of equipment, which I now have in my record room upstairs, alongside a modern player and an old Dansette. I would play my records on our stereo system, and also take them down the street to play on my uncle’s Stereogram, to compare the sound and the stereo effects. The albums I had at the time were The Beatles White album, Tommy by the Who, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues. Days of Future Passed was my favourite. The album had been recorded to demonstrate the New “Deramic Sound System” and had set out to demonstrate the potential of stereo recording. The sound was unlike anything I had heard before. The symphonic arrangements, the blend of classic and rock, the way in which the sound was divided across the two stereo channels; it was like entering a whole new sonic world for the first time. And the songs; “Tuesday Afternoon”, “Dawn is a Feeling”, and “Twilight Time”, were just amazing. But best of all was “Nights in White Satin”. I love the song to this day, but from the moment I first heard it I was fascinated by its unearthly quality. It stood out from the rest of songs on the album.
The Moody Blues early 1970s UK tours missed Newcastle. They played the Odeon in 1969, but didn’t return to the North East until the early 1980s. They did play Leeds University a couple of times in the early 70s, but I was just a little too young to make the trip to Leeds to see them. They then went on a hiatus from 1974 to 1978. So I never got to see the Moody Blues until 1979 when they returned to promote their new album “Octave”. Their 1979 tour was short, only taking in three venues: Glasgow Apollo, Stafford Bingley Hall, and Wembley Arena. I had waited so long to see this band, so decided to make the trip to Glasgow Apollo for the concert.
The “Octave” album featured the classic Moodies line-up of Justin Hayward on guitar and vocals, John Lodge on bass and vocals, Ray Thomas on vocals and flute, Graeme Edge on drums, and Mike Pinder on organ and synthesiser. Mike Pinder decided that he didn’t wish to tour, and was replaced by Patrick Moraz, who had just left Yes.
On the day of the gig, I picked up Marie from work at 4pm and we drove straight up to Glasgow. I got lost somewhere in the city, as I often have to this day, and we arrived late, missing the support act. Support came from the late Jimmie Spheeris who was an American singer-songwriter and released four albums in the 1970s. We had seats upstairs, with a pretty good view of the stage. The Moodies had a big sound system, with massive speakers hanging from the roof. It was the first time I’d seen anything on this scale in a concert hall. The set was a mix of old favourites, and tracks from “Octave”. Although the sound system was huge, I remember thinking that the sound level was quite quiet for a “rock” band. “Nights in White Satin” was my favourite, along with the last song “Question”. The encore was “Ride me See-Saw” which it has been each time I saw them.
It was great to see the Moody Blues after such a long wait, and they didn’t let me down. The Moodies toured a lot since the late 70s, often calling at Newcastle, and I have seen them several times since that night. I’ll reflect on those concerts over the next few days.
From the tour programme: “The legend that never really went away while their music lived on is now back live with Patrick Moraz in the keyboard seat and their first appearances in the U.K. for six years sealed by two capacity appearances at Wembley Arena in 1979…….now at the end of 1979, it’s time for Britain to welcome the Moody Blues back to the live stage. Inevitably, there’ll be people in the audience tonight who have never been fortunate enough to see the Moody Blues playing live, but just as many, and possibly more, will be those who’ve seen the group before and enjoyed their albums since the ’60s. A cause for celebration – the return of the Magnificent Moody Blues”. The programme advertised “Out of this World” which was a compilation album of Moodies classics released on K-Tel records.
Setlist: Steppin’ in a Slide Zone; Tuesday Afternoon; Twilight Time; The Day We Meet Again; The Story in Your Eyes; I’m Your Man; Top Rank Suite; Isn’t Life Strange; Driftwood; I’ll Be Level With You; Gypsy; Survival; The Balance; I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band); Nights in White Satin; Legend of a Mind; Question. Encore: Ride My See-Saw.
The Moody Blues Newcastle City Hall September 23 2008
The Moody Blues just keep going. On Tuesday night they were at Newcastle City Hall, where they come every couple of years or so now. No big surprises in the set list; all the favourites were played : Tuesday Afternoon, Nights in White Satin, Voices in the Sky, Question, I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band, The Voice. The set is in two halves with the well known songs spread pretty evenly throughout. My seat was 4 rows from the front to the left of the stage, and the sound from there was pretty mirky. I couldn’t hear the vocals very well at all, so for the second half I went upstairs and sat in a empty seat about half way back. My view wasn’t as good but the sound was crystal clear from there.
The band played, as always, pretty faultlessly. Justin Haywood and John Lodge both look great, and Justin’s voice is still pretty strong. The only other long time member is Graeme Edge the drummer (who is actually the only original member from the Go Know days). The backdrop showed lots of pictures of the band in the late 60s and early 70s. The encore was, as usual, Ride my SeeSaw. All great songs and well played.