A great review of the first show of this tour is below, if anything, this last show was even better than written below. I'll never get tired of seeing them, they'll never get tired of playing.
By Allan Mandell
In one 19-song two-hour set, the Moody Blues confirmed to a Pasadena Civic Auditorium sold-out crowd of 3,029 that great rock and roll still lives.
The Moody Blues aren't pushing any new album. They aren't promoting some new box set. And Justin Hayward, John Lodge, and Graeme Edge need tour money like they need a guitar smashed over their heads.
The Moodys are back on tour simply because they love to play and there are people that still want to see this classic, can't-be-copied band.
Justin Hayward took his usual center stage spot and led the band through "Lovely To See You" and segued into "Tuesday Afternoon." Remarkably, Hayward's voice sounds better today than forty years ago when 'Tuesday' was #2 on the billboard charts. Hayward, owning one of the most distinctive and recognizable voices in rock history, is now displaying a wider vocal range than ever - at age sixty no less.
Gone is the thirty-something full-piece orchestra that sometimes provided back-up. Hayward has all the support he needs now with ultra-talented, versatile flutist Norda Mullen to his right and two skilled keyboard players, Julie Ragins and Paul Bliss, on opposite ends behind him.
Most importantly of course there's John Lodge standing to Hayward's left providing the beautifully in-sync back-up harmonies for which the Moody's will forever be famous for.
The band played 'Tuesday' in an uplifting tempo punctuated by the hard-driving drumming duo of Graeme Edge and Gordon Marshall, the latter having joined the band in 1991. Mullen played a breathtaking, mesmerizing flute solo which ignited the crowd. Combine the mood-altering resplendent subtlety of ex-Moody flutist Ray Thomas with the furiously aggressive tones that emit from the flute of Ian Anderson and you've got your portrait of Norda Mullen.
Hayward played acoustic on "Never Comes The Day" and Julie Ragins and Paul Bliss helped set the soft, transcendent tone with graceful moving touches on the keyboards, leaving Mullen to finally blast this 1969 piece through the ceiling with two explosive whipping harmonica solos that would have made Paul Butterfied proud.
It should be noted the raucous crowd consisted of mostly people aged forty through seventy. So maybe there were more bottles of Geritol in the audience than whiskey flasks. All the same, this crowd - after just three songs - had no inhibitions about dancing in the seats and aisles.
A half-hour into the show, Ragins gently touched her electric keyboard and then Bliss backed her with a prolonged deep hit on his Mellotron and the crowd rose to its feet in recognition. Lodge took a leap in the air and then Hayward sang the first few words of "The Voice" and - at that moment - both band and crowd seemed to sense this a special night. The guitar solo on "The Voice" is short, but Hayward stood at the tip of the stage to let the crowd know he cared - and the crowd responded in gratitude for this precise ear-piercing guitar lick.
The first set concluded with Hayward's 1971 masterpiece "Story In Your Eyes." As great as it is, this song wouldn't work without Lodge's rich, graceful back-up harmonies. After Hayward let out a pulsating guitar solo, he nodded at Lodge, who took center stage with his own blistering guitar solo and the two traded back and forth again and then met center stage to rock side by side in perfect rhythm. Edge and Marshall finally finished this masterwork in a rapidly aggressive, symbol-crashing fury.
On this night, Edge and Marshall opened "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)" with short modest strokes. Hayward, Lodge, Ragins and Mullen sang "I'm Just A Singer" in noble, glorious harmony with a strong collective purpose as if there were 300,000 people in witness instead of 3,000. Sure, this is the best song Lodge ever wrote, but it's also one of the best songs that anyone ever wrote.
"Nights In White Satin" was played mostly up-tempo with Edge and Marshall tenaciously smacking the skins and, most prominently, Hayward's voice reaching for and hitting higher notes that can't be found on the 1967 record.
Hayward and Lodge each tried to introduce the finale, but neither could speak as the crowd wouldn't stop screaming its collective appreciation for Hayward's 'White Satin' vocal work. So Lodge, teammate that he is, just stepped back and pointed to his forty-year band mate. Go ahead, keep cheering.
Hayward genuinely looked surprised - and touched.
Accepting the fact that quieting this crowd was an impossibility, Hayward eventually picked up his acoustic guitar and went into his wickedly fast, legendary, incomparable strumming chords which open "Question."
Lodge's harmonies on back-up vocals were again superhuman and with Ragins and Mullen providing further passionate crooning, Hayward again stretched his lead vocal work to extraordinary high heights.
"Ride My See-Saw" was the encore and no words can do it justice. The band served up this 1968 jewel with all the frenzied energy it deserves. Lodge, his arms wailing back and forth, led the crowd in a 1960's-style wave.
Forty-three years, twenty-six albums, countless great songs, 60 million albums sold and you can still trust the Moody Blues. When they say 'Lovely To See You,' they mean it.