Moody Blues Concert Review
October 29, 2008
from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)
This German newspaper has a nice review of the Moodies' October 29th concert at the Alte Oper. Here is the link to the German version:
The Moody Blues In Concert
Below is an English translation, courtesy of Merlina at Travelling Eternity Road.
THE MOODY BLUES IN CONCERT
EXUBERANT SOUND, BIG FEELING
by Michael Hierholzer
October 30, 2008
The Moody Blues gave a concert at the "Alte Oper" in which they concentrated on the early pieces of the band. The climax was, as expected, 'Nights in White Satin.'
Glowing cheeks, wet eyes and here and there blue-glowing waving-objects above grey heads. The audience consisted mostly of members of the "Silver Sex"-generation and commemorated the times when to the melancholy sounds of 'NIWS' the first sexual advances took place during the tea dance in the parish hall or in Hans-Guenther's Partykeller. The ballad's opening tunes once were the imperative mandate for moving closer together instead of continuing to move past each other. A couple of minutes it lasted, the dream of the nights in white damask. It didn't last any longer at the Moody Blues concert at the Alte Oper either. Although the band would have been welcomed to repeat it. Because of course everybody was waiting for it. And they didn't get disappointed: the song sounded like 40 years ago. After years of experimenting with their own material, the group have returned to their original sound. The audience in Frankfurt, the last and only German station on their European tour, thanked them with minute-long ovations. Hardly anybody kept to their seats. The fully occupied hall was vibrating. Pop is emotion. And emotion is everything.
The biggest success of the british softrockers, who surely enough are proficient in the harder tunes as well, was not the conclusion of the concert: it followed 'Question' and as an encore 'Ride My See-Saw,' fast pieces, both from the procreative early times of the musiscians who worked with the Mellotron and soon with orchestra musicians in order to build in symphonic effects into their works. The rich/lush walls of sound, the use of the flute, the catchy melody arcs above heavy rhythms, the change of tempo within one and the same song are characteristic for a band who tends towards pomp-rock and leaves no room for improvisation (today less than ever). They were, except for a lean period in the 70s, regularly touring, they have put their stage concept to the test regularly and have thus, unlike other musicians who want to tie in with their big times, secured the quality of their live performances. The degree of perfection is high. That's at the expense of spontaneity. But the attendees of a Moody Blues concert don't want the band to re-invent themselves every night. The wish is for continuity.
In Frankfurt you could experience friendly gentlemen, who, being in grandfather-age, do not make the mistake to sweep across the stage like lunatics. They present themselves as rock veterans who have aged in dignity. This combo spares you embarassing gimmicks. Their special vein for the deeply melancholic is shown by songs like 'Isn't Life Strange,' whereas singer and bassplayer John Lodge languishes "stra-a-a-ange" and rhymes "pa-a-a-age" with that, as if the voice cannot stand the yearning pain anymore. That's the point where you ask yourself, how could the creators of such perfectly orchestrated kitschy songs be labeled with the rating "art rock": artificial gimmicks are in no way the affair of The Moody Blues, this group aims directly at the heart. Remaining from the "ancestors" are: 'Nights In White Satin"-composer Justin Hayward (guitar and vocals) and Greame Edge (drums), in addition there are as tour-musicians the flautist Norda Mullen, Julie Ragins and Paul Bliss on keyboards, as well as Gordon Marshall as second drummer. They produce an exuberant sound which completely lives up to the Moody Blues-spirit from their heyday. One cannot wish for more.