Back in the 60s almost everyone listened to AM radio, for the most part that was all there was. It was everywhere, in cars and transistor radios. AM radio had 3 things, Sports, News and Top 40 music stations. Personally, after a while I got tired of hearing the same old 10 songs almost every hour. My father was a gadget junkie. He was always looking for that new toy, but rarely known now to use them. In the 60s the big thing was the console stereo system. It was a huge piece of furniture that contained a record player and AM/FM stereo. FM was just starting up in the mid-60s and most of the stations in the Midwest were run by colleges.
One night I was tired of listening to Top 40 and switch over to FM. I scanned the bands and finally discovered this little station out of Detroit Michigan that was playing music I had not heard before. It was 1967 and there was no internet, we got all of our music news from either Rolling Stone Magazine or from the local station you listened to. So, one Sunday night I was listening to this new FM station and they announced that they would be playing a new album without commercial breaks. This was something really new for me and so I listened while doing homework. All of a sudden, I hear:
“Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right,
And which is an illusion.”
My attention was now focused on the music. For the next 40 some minutes I was enthralled by this strange new music form. This was the first time I had ever heard rock & roll music with a full orchestra. I had to wait until the end of the album to hear what it was and the bands name (I missed it at the beginning). I discovered this new British band called The Moody Blues and the album was Days of Future Passed. So, the next time I was at the mall, I went to JC Pennys to the record department and found the album and bought it. From this point on I became a huge The Moody Blues fan. I bought all of their albums. After moving to Phoenix, AZ in the 70s, I was lucky enough to see them perform live three times.
It has been 55 years since that amazing album came out. Unfortunately, only 2 members of The Moody Blues are still around, John Lodge and Justin Hayward. Justin was the lead singer and guitarist for the band and wrote many of the bands hit singles. Justin was always known for his acoustic guitars and his bright red Gibson ES-335 guitar. I actually have a photo I took of Justin holding that red guitar at the 1980 show I saw.
Tonight’s show started with Mike Dawes coming out to perform a number of unique acoustic guitar songs. Mike is a very accomplished players and added a bit of quirkiness to both is presentation and music. After Mike played about 6 songs, he left the stage and we had a small intermission.
The main show started with Justin Hayward entering the stage and starting to perform “The Eastern Sun” from his solo career. Even after all these years, Justin voice and guitar playing skills are still the same, outstanding. Slowly other members of the band were introduced and entered the stage. Justin was first joined by keyboardist Julie Ragins. Julie has played with The Moody Blues and now joins Justin on his tours. She also provides backing vocals. Next on the stage came Mike Dawes. He provided accompanying guitar work. Last up as Karmen Gould. She plays flute that is necessary for many of the classic The Moody Blues songs. She also provided backup vocals. All of the members of the band were on the stage for the third song, “Tuesday Afternoon” from the Days of Future Passed album. This was the start of many standing ovations.
At different points in the show, Justin would tell little stories about either the next song or about where he grew up in England.
Since Justin was only playing acoustic guitars, his selection of songs was more styled around that sound and not the heavier and faster Rock & Roll songs The Moody Blues has created. He played “The Actor” and “Never Comes a Day” which were perfect for acoustic guitars. By the time he got to “Nights in White Satin” everyone was transfixed and swaying with the music. This got the biggest standing ovation of the night.
The biggest difference between a John Lodge show and a Justin Hayward show is the style of performance and song selection. John Lodge has a large band and plays more of the heavier and faster Rock & Roll songs by The Moody Blues like “Ride My See-Saw”. Justin Hayward has gone the opposite direction and has a small tight band and performs song that better fit with acoustic guitars. Each artist’s show is awesome and I highly recommend you see both.
My biggest regret was that it was not all of The Moody Blues performing the songs. I really missed Graeme Edge on drums, Ray Thomas on flute and Mike Pinder on keyboards. That band mix had an amazing sound and they harmonized very well together. But alas this will never happen again.
You find out more information about Justin Hayward and his future tour dates on either his website or Facebook page.
Mike Dawes is an English fingerstyle guitar player known for composing, arranging and performing multiple parts simultaneously on the guitar. He reminds me a lot of Shawn Phillips. Both are guitar players but use technology, pedals and other equipment to create sound and looping to enhance their acoustic guitar playing.
Mike was both entertaining and extremely talented. If you get a chance to see Mike perform, you will also be impressed. Personally, I would love to see Mike come back to Phoenix and perform at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM). I believe that is the perfect location and crowd for Mike’s unique performance. I would love to see Mike again.
You can find out more about Mike Dawes from his website and Facebook page. There is merchandise, albums and future tour information available.
Photos by Fred Kuhlman, All Rights Reserved
Justin Hayward Setlist: (Album / Cover)
The Eastern Sun (Spirits of the Western Sky)
Driftwood (Octave, The Moody Blues song)
Tuesday Afternoon (Days of Future Passed, The Moody Blues song)
The Actor (In Search of the Lost Chord, The Moody Blues song)
Hope and Pray (Keys of the Kingdom, The Moody Blues song)
The Western Sky (Spirits of the Western Sky)
The Voice (Long Distance Voyager, The Moody Blues song)
Forever Autumn (Jeff Wayne cover)
Never Comes the Day (On the Threshold of a Dream, The Moody Blues song)
Your Wildest Dreams (The Other Side of Life, The Moody Blues song)
Question (A Question of Balance, The Moody Blues song)
Nights in White Satin (Days of Future Passed, The Moody Blues song)
The Story in Your Eyes (Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, (The Moody Blues song)
I Know You’re Out There Somewhere (Sur la mer, The Moody Blues song)