(Live Review) THE MOODY BLUES - Coronado Theatre, Rockford (7/18/23)
By The Beard & Little Johnny
A lot of opinions differ on the term “prog-rock” (a fusion of styles beginning in the 1960’s where the usual pop sensibility was replaced by more focus on instrumentation and orchestral composition). Fans of this style loved its long solos and artistic touches, while critics espoused it as pretentious and unwieldy.
Although certainly arguments could be made that bands such as The Beatles or The Doors touched on prog sounds in the mid 1960’s, two of the longest lasting and remembered bands that exemplified what prog rock was to become were Procol Harum and The Moody Blues.
Back in late 1967, (when a baby Beard was only 16 months old, and yes, I already had the Beard), The Moody Blues released an album called Days of Future Passed a conceptual record merging psychedelic rock with orchestral music and adding heavy mellotron signatures.
Although not receiving initial success upon its release, as time passed and with the help of heavy FM radio airplay of the song “Knights in White Satin,” that song would rise to the number two position on the US Billboard chart in 1972.
This evening, at the beautiful old school Coronado Theater in Rockford Illinois, the Beard and Little Johnny (for one time only) will have the opportunity to hear this musically important album played live in its entirety.
Starring John Lodge on vocals and bass (a member of the Moody Blues for 57 years), along with his "10,000 Light Years Band" and featuring a guest appearance by Jon Davison (YES), with the voice of Graeme Edge (founding Moody Blues member) via special recording, we will be treated to two sets of Moody Blues music. Many of my older readers and music historians will recognize this as one show you see simply to remember a time when music made a leap forward into something new, unique, and clearly long lasting. (Ed: Man, you're old ... says the longer in the tooth editor.)
Tonight, we salute the 1960’s and the birth of prog-rock with The Moody Blues.
As we took a good look around at this evenings Coronado Theater audience, Little Johnny openly wondered, “am I the youngest person in this entire theater?” Good chance little dude.
The opening set had mostly numbers that the Beard had never heard before, but were in a way nostalgic to Mr. Lodge such as the Timothy Leery ode “Legend of a Mind" which had that very psychedelic keys sound eventually made prominent by such bands as ELP and YES in the 70’s. There were, in these songs, the feeling of The Moody Blues, but the Beard readily confessed he was waiting for a bigger hit in order to really gage what I thought.
"I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)" while exposing that John Lodge, at 77-years of age was not THE voice of the Moody Blues, was just rollicking enough to get a largely AARP audience on their feet.
After an intermission, it was time for what everyone came for. Days of Future Passed in its full entirety. (Ed: That's a prophetic title for an album issued in the 60s!)
The orchestral beginnings were accented by lovely backdrops of space and land aerials providing a panoramic view to give the sound depth and space to exist within. Good prog feel. As “Lunch Hour” was authentically Mr. Lodge on vocals when the song was originally written, it was the first part of the evening that began to pull me forward as I anticipated what was to come.
As the strains of “Tuesday Afternoon” began, Jon Davison (current lead vocalist of Prog Rock band YES) emerged to manage the more delicate vocals that were always founding member Justin Haywards. It was here that this evening shifted into higher gear as Mr. Davison’s soothing almost croon was perfectly fitting for a number like "Tuesday Afternoon" and both band and audience fed off the increase in energy going on through the concert hall. This was followed by the John Lodge voiced “Evening Time to Get Away.” Again, a great transition to something Mr. Lodge always sang on anyway.
When Mr. Davison re-emerged, there was a noticeable lift in the energy of the room as THIS was what they had most come to hear. The opening strains from the Cello (Jason Charboneau) announced the beginning of "Knights in White Satin". For the spoken portion, a video of founder and original drummer Graeme Edge was shown on the screen as he posthumously delivered the piece known as “Late Lament.”
As the song progressed, once again Mr. Davisons croon was the perfect center for the rest of the members to adhere to. Mr. Charboneau seduced his Cello into weeping notes of longing throughout its solo portion of the song, while keyboardist Alan Hewitt enticed the Mellotron to emit a tuneful dulcet. Guitarist Duffy King and Mr. Lodge brought it all together with their subtle and gentle, but still emotional, strings and backing vocals and harmony while Billy Ashbaugh from the riser above kept time and just loud enough drumming to enhance, not detract. This was the pièce de résistance that has long defined the Moody Blues and they brought it off wonderfully.
The group did come back for the hit “Ride My Seesaw” but, in this case, the encore was anticlimactic. The orgasmic moment was undoubtedly in the closer. As bows and waves to a cheering and standing ovation faded, the band walked off stage (Ed: Pushing their walkers stage left?!) and the Beard dinged another mental check off a list of musical things one ought to at least see once. As we filed out, The Beard asked Little Johnny what he thought. The lad paused a moment before saying “They were kind of old for me really, but that song at the end reminded me of when they made us read about Canterbury Tales back at the Orphanage and I liked that verse about some people telling you thoughts they cannot defend and just what you want to be you will be in the end. It’s like an old sounding song, but it’s all still happening right now all around us.”
The Beard actually stopped walking for a second and said, “Johnny, sometimes you really see stuff.” He raised one eyebrow and said, “I know. I’m way smarter than people think.”
So, this ended stop #38 and band number #191. Keep reading The Mighty Decibel on Wednesdays and Thursdays to keep up with ALL the Beard and Little Johnny Reviews. Then check out the videos on TIKTOK by searching:
Until next time