The Moody Blues – Live at The Fox

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There are only a handful of bands/artists that my wife and I would like to see together, which is more the result of my particular interests.  So when The Moody Blues announced a date in Atlanta, it seemed like a good idea to revisit some old favorites.  We had seen them at an amphitheater in the early ‘90’s, and I had seen them in high school back in 1981 on their Long Distance Voyager tour.

Thus motivated for a “we” outing, I camped at the computer at 10:00 a.m. one Saturday morning when the tickets went on sale, damn the Ticketmaster fees and full speed ahead.  At 10:01, I’m staring at tickets somewhere around row KK.  I mean, really?  They sold rows A-Z and AA-JJ just that fast?

No.

My wife has had one other concert experience at the Fox, which is a remarkable venue but one that can be sonically challenged.  She wasn’t interested in sitting in the nose bleed sections, and neither was I. So, I had to do better than row double whatever, and I feared Ticketmaster had allotted all the prime seats to the kind resellers who prey upon people who like to go out.

Thinking creatively, I went to the Moodies fan club site, and, lo and behold, a special assortment of tickets were available.  In short, they were guaranteed to be in the first 10 rows and came with a T-shirt, pins and other garbage, for the low, low price of way too much but not as much as would be charged by scalpers.  Fuelled by a competitive spirit to stick it to Ticketmaster’s malevolent dictatorship, sure.  Okay.

Fast forward a bit.  I’m channel surfing a week before the show, and there’s a 2001 Moodies concert being played on the local PBS station.  As anyone knows, PBS stations play concerts so that people will actually tune in, and then they interrupt the programming every 20 minutes for a donation drive featuring a panel of smiling faces waiting by the phones for your call.

As it turns out, The Moodies signed over 1500 prime seats to the PBS station to be used for their fundraiser, essentially Rows A through double whatever.  So, as much as I wanted to blame Ticketmaster for profiteering shenanigans, I can’t.  This time.

As my concert reviews go, I usually detour to the gastric aspects beforehand, and this is no exception.  We stopped at OK Cafe, on West Paces Ferry Road.  Turns out that this is a local icon which I somehow missed.  Not to worry - everyone 55 and older seems to know about it and they haven’t suffered for my lack of knowledge.  It’s a diner atmosphere with country food offerings.  It has a surprisingly large seating area, which was needed for the corresponding surprisingly large number of people either eating or waiting to be seated.  Meatloaf, black-eyed peas, cabbage, cornbread, and a glass of sugar mixed with ice and tea, and you get the picture. In short, visitors to Atlanta would be better served to skip the Varsity and eat at the OK Cafe, despite a Po Folks x 1.5 pricing metric.

On to the titular concert.  One aspect of ordering through the fan club site was that tickets were delivered “Will Call,” presumably to prevent “fans” from scalping tickets to presumably great seats.  (drum roll…) And the lottery says!:  Row F!  That’s the sixth row…except for the additional six rows of temporary seats that they placed in front of Row A, but who’s counting?

Of the band’s core 5 members, one left in the 70’s and another retired sometime in the past 10 years.  That leaves three, two primary songwriters and singers (Justin Hayward and John Lodge) and drummer Graeme Edge.  They’ve supplemented Justin Hayward, Graeme Edgethe band with a keyboardist, an additional drummer/percussionist, a female backup singer, and a very talented flutist/backup singer. 

The concert began at 8:15 with “The Voice,” which I believe was the first song they played when I saw them in 1981.  Only 29 years ago?  The concert began well enough although it included a couple clunkers from their later albums, but then it abruptly stopped after 45 minutes (!) for a 20 minute intermission.

This is an appropriate time to remark that I’m somewhat used to hanging on to the tail end of the baby boomer’s generation of great musical acts.  This concert was no exception, but I remain proud to be part of the Moodies’ youth movement.  I’m still undecided if the band actually needed a break, as they didn’t appear to be particularly winded, dehydrated, hunched over or searching for oxygen masks.  In fact, they were fairly energetic.  So I’m left to assume that the intermission was for the audience’s  benefit, as the back screen reminded us throughout that T-Shirts and other memorabilia were available in the lobby.

The Moody Blues

Notwithstanding the interruption to the established good vibe, Hayward and Lodge were both in surprisingly good voice.  Lodge doesn’t attempt the falsettos any longer, but it all works out fine with the backup singers.  He and Edge appeared to relish the interaction with the crowd, while Hayward appeared appreciative for the adoration but as yet unwilling to conduct himself as someone going through the motions.  In fact, he didn’t, with strong vocals and almost flawless guitars.  For that matter, Lodge remains a nimble and fleet bassist.

The band covered their more commercial songs (“The Other Side of Life,” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” “Driftwood” and, to a lesser extent, “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone”) as well as a good mix of their classic work.

“Nights in White Satin” was clearly the crowd favorite, which is not surprising as it basically made their careers all those years ago.  From the same album, Days of the Future Passed, they also played “Tuesday Afternoon” and an inspired “Peak Hour.”

Others included “The Story in Your Eyes,” a trippy “Higher and Higher,” “Gypsy,” an obscure “Are You Sitting Comfortably,” “Ride My See Saw,” “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” “Isn’t Life Strange” and “Question.”

Probably the most memorable moment was when Graeme Edge addressed the audience, pointing out that he would celebrate his 69th birthday during the current tour.   He commented, thus, that he got to live through the ‘60’s twice, and that 69 remains his favorite number.  And on those subjects, he held up his index and middle fingers in a V, and said “In the 60’s, this used to be the peace symbol.  Now it’s a symbol for {in a throaty voice} Viagra.  The drug of choice may have changed, but it’s still about sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”

Bravo.

Additional photos HERE.

2 comments :

  1. Great show. Great crowd. Great venue. Nights in White Satin was perfection. It got a ~five minute standing ovation. I'm glad to have gotten to see the Moodies again.

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  2. Great Blog! I loved this one. (And you decided to comment on the seat selection after all....)

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