Moody Blues, The: Days Of Future Passed – Live (2CD)
Back in 1967 The Moody Blues released what has gone on to be seen as one of the classic albums of the early prog era, Days Of Future Passed. Augmented by an orchestral arrangement courtesy of Peter Knight, the album combined rock and orchestra in a way that some had tried but few had achieved with the same level of success. The album would climb into the top 30 in the UK, but buoyed by the success of the single "Tuesday Afternoon" it would eventually reach number 3 in America. Elsewhere it was the song "Nights In White Satin" that brought The Moodys wider acclaim and in many ways as the years would roll on, these two songs would overshadow their parent album. With few people predicting the huge success Days… would achieve, Knight's score for the orchestral aspects of the album – and they are plentiful – would be lost, and subsequently much of what he and the band created on this release would never be performed live. That was until 2017, when the three surviving members of the band took to the stage in Toronto alongside a full orchestra and pre-recorded narration from renowned actor Jeremy Irons, who took on the role Mike Pinder performed on the original album. Elliot Davis and Pete Long were the pair tasked with rebuilding and re-scoring the orchestral parts from scratch and it has to be said that they've done a quite remarkable job.
Also available in DVD and blu-ray formats, it is the 2CD version I've been lucky enough to experience, so while I can't comment on the visuals of this release I can confirm that the audio is a joy to behold. Introduced to the crowd before the show starts, drummer Graeme Edge, bassist and singer John Lodge and guitarist and singer Justin Hayward belie their years to put in a timeless performance. The decades may have evolved the singing duo's voices and seen the band augment Edge's drumming with the supreme percussive talents of Billy Ashbaugh, but it really is as though this was a fresh young band revealing their latest efforts to an enthusiastic crowd.
As has been their way for quite some time now, proceedings are split into two Moody Blues sets, greatest hits such as "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)", "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" and "The Story In Your Eyes" backed up by other timeless pieces that the audience lap up eagerly; "Steppin' In A Slide Zone" and "Your Wildest Dreams" also particularly memorable. To this point the band have been performing alone, Julie Ragins adding keys, percussion, guitar, sax and vocals, Norda Mullen bringing flute, guitar, percussion and vocals, while Alan Hewlitt adds yet more keys and vocals to the mix. And rather wonderful they all are too, The Moodys' long reputation as a peerless live act intact, especially when you take in just how un-doctored the recordings appear to be.
The orchestra arrives for the second set, and it has to be said that Days Of Future Passed makes an impact fitting of the event this concert truly was. The short interluding pieces are utterly captivating as the strings sway and swoon, building tension and relieving it quite masterfully. All the while the band interject, as an album that was ostensibly recounting 'everyday normality' is breathed new life. The hits, "Tuesday..." and "...White Satin..." get their rightful place and the acclaim they deserve, and yet it is the Days… album as a whole that makes the real impression here, as it once again reveals why so many people took it to their hearts all those years ago. All too soon the experience is over, the non-Days encores of "Question" and "Ride My See-Saw" bringing the set to a scintillating end, but what a journey it has been.
In many ways Days Of Future Passed was the early defining moment for this band, their transition from pop chart hopefuls into bona-fide progressive rock stars complete almost overnight. And the brief liner notes leave little doubt just how much the album meant and continues to mean to the surviving trio who created it, with John Lodge's words proving rather poignant… "In 1967 we went into the Decca recording studios in London England and a week later we had made an album that changed our lives forever..." Judging by the response by those who saw it played live some 50 years later, it wasn't only the band's lives that it made such an impact on.
Part One The Moody Blues In Concert (CD Disc 1)
1. I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)
2. The Voice
3. Steppin' In A Slide Zone
4. Say It With Love
6. Your Wildest Dreams
7. Isn't Life Strange
8. I Know You're Out There Somewhere
9. The Story In Your Eyes
Part Two Days Of Future Passed Live(CD Disc 2)
10. The Day Begins
11. Morning Glory
12. Dawn (Prelude)
13. Dawn Is A Feeling
14. The Morning (Prelude)
15. Another Morning
16. Lunch Break (Prelude)
17. Peak Hour
18. Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)
19. Evening (Time To Get Away)
20. The Sun Set (Prelude)
21. The Sun Set
22. Twilight (Prelude)
23. Twilight Time
24. Late Lament
25. Nights In White Satin
26. The Night (Finale)
28. Ride My See-Saw
Added: March 24th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Moody Blues online
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