Friday, November 05, 1999

CONCERT REVIEW


Moody Blues should stick with oldies

BY CHRIS VARIAS
Enquirer contributor

        It looked like nap time from the get-go for the Moody Blues at their Firstar Center concert Wednesday.

        In the middle of “Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)” — only two songs into the show — flute player Ray Thomas pulled up a stool. While some people might say he needed to sit in order to position himself correctly at the microphone for his flute solo, another explanation seems more reasonable: These guys are old.

        They're not just another classic rock group that's well past their prime. They're a first-wave British Invasion band, getting their start in Birmingham back in 1964.

        So while the Moodies' rather relaxed stage presence won't win them any new fans, all was forgiven with the crowd at the Firstar. Lots of these people looked old enough to have been around since the band's late-'60s, early-'70s psychedelic-progressive rock days, if not the mid-'60s Invasion.

        While they are certainly not “the kings of classic rock” as the emcee dubbed them, the Moodies did play enough songs to show that, if nothing else, they were once pretty successful: “Isn't Life Strange,” “Ride My See-Saw,” “Nights In White Satin,” “I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock 'n' Roll Band),” "Question” and others.

        Their ability to adapt to their fans' taste is hit-and-miss. Middle-of-the-road rock from their 1980s' comeback, songs like “The Other Side of Life” and “Your Wildest Dreams” went over with the crowd just as successfully as their older material. But stuff from their new album Strange Days, which they kept plugging, was just plain bad.

        A couple of new songs, like “Strange Days” and “English Sunset,” were dull attempts at soft-rock hits, nothing too offensive.

        However, the slow love song “Words You Say,” sung by bassist John Lodge, was a gross display of botched timing and off-key singing.

        To make matters worse, Mr. Lodge's performance was totally self-indulgent. He conducted the synthesizer-produced string section with his hands as he sang out of tune. It would have been hard to sit through if it weren't so funny.

        Funnier still was Graeme Edge's “Nothing Changes.” Mr. Egde left his seat behind the drums to come forward and recite the spoken-word piece: “Standing in the crossroads of what will be, is, and was, the ugliness eludes us” and so on.

        Even though it's a new song, it sounded as dated as their ode to LSD guru Timothy Leary, which they sang a few minutes later. Mr. Edge is right, nothing changes.

       



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