BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN
Many casual Moody Blues fans who know them mostly by heavily orchestrated FM radio staples like "Nights In White Satin" probably don't realize that they are one hard-rocking live band. Led by long-time members, guitarist-singer Justin Hayward, bassist-vocalist John Lodge, and original drummer Graeme Edge, the veteran group, augmented by four other musicians, rocked Red Bank, New Jersey's Count Basie Theater Saturday night.
The veteran group hasn't released a new album in more than a decade (although Hayward put out a fine solo album last year, "Spirits Of The Western Sky"). They also haven’t charted a Top Ten single in nearly 30 years, but most of the over-50 audience members were more than happy to relive the group’s glory days with songs like, "Tuesday Afternoon," "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band)," "The Story in Your Eyes," "Ride My See Saw," "Isn't Life Strange," "Your Wildest Dreams" and the show closer "Question."
Hayward's voice faltered on the opening verse of "Nights In White Satin," surprisingly one of the band's less well-executed numbers. However, his singing and guitar playing were mostly first-rate throughout the evening. While his guitar work has been overshadowed through the years by his other musical talents, tonight's performance on his patented red Gibson ES 335 was truly outstanding.
Lodge who turns 70 next year still moves around like a manic 25 year-old, and how many musicians his age can get away with being attired in tight black leather pants and a black muscle T-shirt?
Graeme Edge, who looks like a radical '60s hippie college professor, left his drum set to joke with the audience about how "my hair used to be brown, and my teeth were white, but now my hair is white and my teeth are brown." He then merrily danced a little jig, while the audience was cheering, laughing and clapping along.
When he later recited his original poem, "The Lament," which is part of "Nights In White Satin," the line "senior citizens wish they were young" drew an audible response from some audience members. It's highly doubtful that the soon-to-be 73-year-old could have imagined still playing in a rock band when he wrote those words some 47 years ago.
It's clear that Edge, Hayward and Lodge are still having the time of their lives performing their classic material, and preserving The Moody Blues’ impressive legacy.
As to why the band has still not been inducted in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this gross oversight stirs up controversy every year when its latest inductees are announced. Apparently, the voters consider Kiss, who will be inducted in April, more musically worthy.