The Moody Blues, The Ryman, Nashville, Tennessee

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The Moody Blues immersed fans in Nashville this past Saturday with their magical sounds.

It was a hot and muggy evening in Nashville, Tennessee. As we approached the historic Ryman Theater it was clear The Moodies were going to have a full house to entertain.

The Moody Blues aren’t just another English rock band. They are professors of progressive and art rock. If you were alive in 1967 there is a very strong chance that their fresh, new music defined moments of your life. If you were born in 1968 and your parents were a fan of The Moody Blues, it is possible you were a result of one of those defining moments.

If you came to this show to hear if they sounded as good as they did in the 70’s and 80’s, you would have been satisfied from beginning to end. They are still crisp and smooth. They still hit all the high notes, which is saying a lot considering some 90’s rock bands lead singers cannot still hit theirs.

As the artists took the stage they received a long, welcoming standing ovation before opening with the fast paced 1973 hit single “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)”. As soon as John Lodge’s bass licks bonged out its rhythm, the crowd cheered and danced. It was the perfect opening song to get the crowd started.

Next up was the spellbinding 1981 hit “The Voice”. The second hit single off their 10th album, “Long Distance Voyager”, helped to prove The Moody Blues ability to stay relevant in the shifting music industry of the 80’s. Synthesizers were the new rave and the group blended the new sounds so well, their original fan base stayed around, and they gained a fresh new group of younger generation fans as well.

As the show rolled on the night only got better. Fans anticipated which song they would hear next. John Lodge engaged the crowd in usual fashion while Justin Hayward was in a more reserved personality. Graeme Edge sat behind the drums. Gone are his Animal like muppet moves; but he is still full of character and is rock solid.

Flautist Ray Thomas’ place has been filled by skilled Norda Mullen who plays the rich sounds of the Moodies flute passages like she created them. She commands the left side of the stage with beautifully sharp, mellow and slick notes. Her talent didn’t stop there either. She also lends her vocals and changed between the flute and an electric acoustic guitar frequently through the night.

Adding to the layers of Moodie magic was talented singer, songwriter, Julie Ragins, who took left back stage with a sax and keyboard. The multi-talented, Alan Hewitt, served his spot on a second key board, while accomplished drummer, Billy Ashbaugh, sat on a second set of drums giving fill and flare to every song.

Before the first 9 song set was finished, they played their very loved hits, “Your Wildest Dreams” and “I Know Your Out There Somewhere” before finishing off the set with the song that married classical and rock, “The Story In Your Eyes”.

There was a short intermission and outfit change. When the group came back out; the real magic began.

The screen on stage doubled in size and opened the set like the dawn of a new day. “Days Of The Future Passed” was beginning as waves of symphonic wonder in sync with a visual time lapse fell on our souls. Eventually Jeremy Irons appears on screen and begins reciting “Morning Glory”, a poem written by Graeme Edge. His voice was superior and fitting for the song.

As “Dawn Is A Feeling” began playing, I looked around and the audience had a different feel to it. People seemed gripped with emotion. The nosey side of me wanted to ask people what they were feeling and what memories are attached to these songs?

Six more songs filled the hearts of their fans before “Late Lament”, again narrated by Jeremy Irons, became the precursor for the most loved Moody song, Nights In White Satin. The crowd fell still and quiet. It was like everyone stopped breathing in appreciation and respect of one another’s listening pleasure. It was a magnificent performance. Justin Hayward belted out every chorus with precision and passion.

The entire performance was overwhelming, but for many “Nights in White Satin” was the highlight of the night. The Moodies received a very long standing ovation. Fans were full of gratitude and love for the group. They briefly left the stage before coming back out to give a two song encore. The upbeat “Questions” and “Ride My See-Saw”. The finish of the formidable song lineup had left everyone in enthralled with an unforgettable experience written on their soul.

If you were unable to celebrate this major milestone with the Moodies, my thoughts are with you. 50 years of future may have passed but the Moody Blues can still deliver their timeless music beautifully.

Set 1  :
I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)
The Voice
Steppin’ in a Slide Zone
Say It With Love
Nervous
Your Wildest Dreams
Isn’t Life Strange
I Know You’re Out There Somewhere
The Story in Your Eyes

Set 2 (Days of Future Passed):
The Day Begins (with Jeremy Irons)
Dawn Is a Feeling
Another Morning
Peak Hour
Forever Afternoon- (Tuesday)
Evening Time to Get Away
The Sunset
Twilight Time
Late Lament (with Jeremy Irons)
Nights in White Satin
Encore:
Question
Ride My See-Saw


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