Moody Blues to perform at E.J. Thomas

By Malcolm X Abram
Beacon Journal pop music writer

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Classic rockers The Moody Blues are celebrating the 45th anniversary of their album "Days of Future Passed" with a show at E.J. Thomas Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 3 (from left) Justin Hayward, Graeme Edge, John Lodge. (handout photo)

Every year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation releases a large list of candidates for enshrinement that is whittled down to a much smaller list of inductees.

Every year, the Moody Blues, the British band known for its elaborate, very British, symphonic rock classics including Nights in White Satin, Tuesday Afternoon and I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band), are snubbed by the foundation, bringing annual cries of outrage from its still dedicated fan base.

The core trio of guitarist/vocalist Justin Hayward; drummer, poet Graeme Edge and bassist/vocalist John Lodge has been together since 1967. (Edge was a founding member of the 1964 band that included future Wings member Denny Laine). A casual fan may only be able to name the three aforementioned hits, but the band has sold more than 70 million records worldwide and garnered 14 platinum and gold records along its nearly half century of musical history.

The group will bring its progressive symphonic rock and vocal harmonies to E.J. Thomas Hall on Monday as part of a tour celebrating the 45th anniversary of its sophomore album, Days of Future Passed, which contained Nights in White Satin.

The song, written by Hayward as a teenager with its big chorus, orchestral crescendos and the late Mike Pinder’s signature Mellotron sound, is one of the biggest-selling singles in history and has hit the Billboard/U.K. charts several times in different decades, including last year when it was No. 2 on the U.K. Rock Chart following a stirring performance by 19-year-old Matt Cardle on the U.K. version of The X Factor.

Earlier this month, Hayward told the Examiner.com that he wrote the epic song after a break-up.

“I was at the end of one big love affair and at the beginning of another,” he said. “When you’re just 20, as I was, that’s quite important in your life. A girlfriend had given me white satin sheets that were terribly impractical because I had quite a heavy beard growth, and it’s terribly unpleasant if you’re trying to sleep on satin,” he said with a laugh.

“It was a lovely romantic gesture, and that’s what I thought of it. I came home one night after a gig, and sat on the side of the bed, and a lot of these thoughts came out.

“I do write letters never meaning to send. I find it a cathartic thing,” he continued. “If I have an issue with somebody or about something, I find it easier to write it down and get it out rather than turning it over in my mind. It’s a series of random thoughts and ideas from a very stoned 20-year-old young man who was desperately sad for himself over one love affair and desperately excited by the next. That’s about it. I couldn’t say that I would write again. It’s a reflection of a person at that particular time,” he said.

The band also still sells out theaters and venues around the world and has arguably one of the more hardcore fan bases in rock. But though band members have admitted in the past that they believe they deserve to be in the rock hall, at this point, the annual snub has become a rallying call for fans, which the band appreciates.

“I think it’s important for the American fans. Of course, it means nothing in Europe at all,” Hayward said to Goldmine in 2010.

In fact, if the trio’s feelings are hurt by the foundation’s snub, it hasn’t stopped members from being magnanimous toward the museum, as the Akron show will double as a benefit for the rock hall with a portion of every ticket sold going to the museum’s many educational programs.

With the members in their late 60s or early 70s and 4½ decades to assess the album’s original intentions and subsequent lasting impact, Edge describes its style and surprise success succinctly.

“I’d just have to say that it’s orchestral rock. Classical — in the music term, not classic meaning very old rock — performed by a bunch of guys who were too stupid to know that we weren’t supposed to be able to do it,” he said in the Examiner.com piece.

The Moody Blues spent a significant portion of 2012 on the road and received critical hosannas with many reviewers mentioning the band’s still-strong vocals augmented by a pair of female vocalists who also add keyboards, percussion and flute. The two-hour set list includes “the big five” — Nights in White Satin, Tuesday Afternoon, I’m Just a Singer in a Rock N Roll Band, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere and Isn’t Life Strange — as well as a few other songs from Days and songs spanning the band’s 16-album, 48-year career.

Since the Akron show will happen during the holiday season, perhaps the band will even throw in a tune from its last album, 2003’s Christmas-themed December.

Whether the Moody Blues are ever welcomed into the hallowed halls of the rock hall remains to be seen, but the band is still being welcomed and feted by rock fans all over the world.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at 330-996-3758 or by email at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com. He’s also on Facebook as Malcolm X Abram. … Go figure.


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