Music Concert Review: Moody Blues

By: Dwayne Wilder

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Here’s a treat that I didn’t think would happen.
 
I’m going to forgo a movie review this week and replace it with a concert review. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the Moody Blues in concert at WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Okla. This will not be a regular occurrence since I can count how many music concerts I’ve been to on one hand. So, enjoy while the getting is good!
 
I’m not sure why I wanted to go. Part of it was the convenience of the venue, but it was also a classic rock band whose songs I have loved over the years. As hard as it is to believe, yes, I am too young to have been there when they first hit the scene. The MB is a British band that formed in the 1960s and had their first American hit in 1967.
 
I missed all of that except to hear those early songs on the radio and learn to love them. I was already hooked when their Number One album “Long Distance Voyager” hit in the early 1980s. (I still have it!)

The songs just spoke to me at that time in my life; I can remember playing it on the turntable over and over every day for what must have been a year! Then, about that same time, I discovered their song “Question.” It remains in the top five songs of the rock era for me! What an incredibly cool song with a great message! It’s rarely played, but I stop what I’m doing when it does.
 
So, when I saw the ad for the show, all of this conspired in my mind for me to go. It is great to see a band – with its original members – in concert, even after 40 years since they hit the music scene. ‘I’m glad I went’ is the short review of this concert.
But allow me to elaborate……………
 
It was a full house; I don’t know how many that auditorium seats, but it’s big and it’s got to be fifteen hundred to a couple thousand. This alone tells you how many people this band and its music have touched over the decades.
 
Of course, there was smoke and lights of all kinds: strobe, spot, mood, psychedelic and flashing. There were two monstrous speakers on each side of the stage and a row of them along the top, which were cranked up to “Make their ears Bleed.”
 
I was sitting 20 rows back and wished I had brought earplugs! But that’s okay! This was
rock and roll music, what did you expect?!
 
The crowd was mostly people who knew the band and the music. They stood up during the songs and clapped with raised arms and swayed to the tune. They were in their 40s
and 50s would be my guess. But let me tell you about who was sitting next to me.
 
On one side, there was a couple who were old enough to be my grandparents! And on the other side was the young date of an older man who probably thought the Moody Blues
was what came after the Cruddy Cramps! 
       
And let me tell you about the cell phones!
 
When they weren’t being used to take pictures or videos, the people were using them like the cigarette lighters from the concerts of …..you know, the 1990s and back! They were
waving them in unison to the music. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a hundred or more lit cell phones swaying in a dark room…………….
 
And yes, the older fans had to flash the ‘devil sign’ during songs. This is the hand gesture with the index and pinkie extended and the middle two fingers tucked under by the thumb. This classic sign of approval goes all the way back to the beginnings of underground rock and roll. It was great to see it again!
 
The theater at WinStar Casino is a good place to hold such concerts. It is intimate and indoors; it’s nothing fancy, but it does have a good sound system and staging area. There are concession areas and restrooms for us getting on up there in age.
 
In college, I learned from a ‘roadie’ that sites such as Lubbock (which is where I was at the time) - and the casino by extension – were the ‘bread and butter’ stops on any tour. These are smaller venues, but which pay the band’s expenses along the way. They actually make their money at the bigger venues and in the larger cities. Without those ‘B and B’ stops, the band would have to pay their expenses out of their profits. Not cool, man! (And I think that was a direct quote!)
 
My concert Saturday was the fourth on the band’s “Precious Cargo” tour this year. It was in Dallas Monday night at Verizon Theater. See? Pay expenses in Thackerville and make money in Dallas!
 
                                                                        *
 
Okay! I probably have broken every rule about reviewing a music concert by now since I have simply explained my own experience.
 
The Moody Blues have sold more than 70 million albums and have had 14 platinum and gold records; and they were the first to do a ‘concept album’ with a message. Yes, Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward and John Lodge are pioneers of the rock era.
 
The band on stage had five older fellows, which I assume are the original members since I didn’t grow up with them. (The other two came in 1991; a drummer and keyboardist.) And there were two young women; one who sang and played the keyboard and one who sang and was the best flutist I have ever heard!
 
If they ever do “Flute Hero,” then she is the one they have to use for the game!
 
Aside: I have always thought there should be a ‘violin hero’ video game because so many rock songs have violins in them! Start listening and see if I’m not wrong!
 
Those two women, who were additions in the 2000s, were an excellent part of the concert. The flute was in more than half of the songs.
 
The MB did 17 songs ending with “Nights in White Satin” and “Question” as the final two songs!!! It was so great! They also did one encore song for a concert of two hours. But it was the eleventh song, whose title I can’t remember, that was the best. It was the longest and younger of the two drummers stood the entire time and played. Yes, he was spinning around in his area like a top! He never missed a beat and the song was incredible. I will find it and soon!
 
They played their hits (Tuesday Afternoon, I’m just a singer in a Rock and Roll band) but had almost half the songs as the lesser known ones. It was a good mix and gave the audience a feeling of what they can do musically. I was impressed; not only by that, but by the fact that 60 and 70 year old men can play that well for that long on a stage with blaring hot lights in their eyes!
 
I would have been done after the first song……………….
 
Another interesting visual were the three giant screens next to and above the performers. The mixers and electronics guys and gals used montages which flowed from their young
personas to their current vestiges. They did the psychedelic thing as well. It was a perfect blend of music and graphics.
 
After the concert, I was thinking of why I wanted to see them again. I realized that the Moody Blues are a steady force in the rock era. They weren’t the biggest or the best; they weren’t the most controversial or the strangest; they just were good. They are lesser known in the big picture, but they have some of the most iconic songs from the rock era and “Long Distance Voyager” and “Days of Future Passed” are among the best known albums of all time.
 
So, there, now you have the long version of my review as well………………..


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