The Moody Blues hit SA this weekPeter Feldman
Peter Feldman: After all these years the famed Moody Blues are still going strong and showing no signs of slowing down.
They will be in South Africa this week for two concerts, one at Cape Town’s Grand West Arena on 30 May and the other at the Coca Cola Dome, on June 1. They share the British Invasion Tour with 10cc and Procol Harum.
It will be The Moody Blues second trip as they visited Sun City for concerts in 1995 and had the pleasure of spending time with the then World Cup-winning Springboks who were at the resort.
The band’s iconic track, “Nights in White Satin,” features in the new Johnny Depp film, “Dark Shadows,” and a recent tour across America’s East Coast was, according to Pollstar magazine, one of the Top 20 (hitting #17) grossing tours this year.
The tour celebrated the 45th Anniversary of their landmark album “Days of Future Passed. “Nights in White Satin” was originally released from the album and it marked one of the first four-minute songs played on the radio, continuing on to become one of the biggest selling singles in history, and hitting #1 spot three separate times on Billboard.
“We’re having the best years concert-wise that we’ve ever had,” band member Justin Hayward said in a telephone interview from Monaco.
Hayward was 19 when he wrote the song after a gig. “It really is the reflections of a young person. I had just finished one love affair and I was just starting another huge one. It was a series of random thoughts and there’s a lot of truth in it. I do write letters never meaning to send, or probably emails where I don’t press send,” he laughed. He described the record as “mysterious” and “curios” because there is “almost nothing on the record…that’s the curious thing about it because in those early recordings there is no double tracking, it’s just quite a lot of echo and very little else. It’s all in the listener’s mind.”
Asked about their concerts, Hayward said they would perform songs from just about every album they’d made over the years. “With us it’s not what we play it’s what we leave out. We have got so much material to choose from because we were an album band. The first half of our set is really about the newer things and when I say newer I’m talking about the 80s and 90s really. The second half are songs we couldn’t get off stage without playing. It’s really the greatest hits from Nights in White in Satin to Ride My Seesaw and those kind of things. It’s a great show and I think this is the best reincarnation of the band I’ve ever been in. There is John Lodge and Graeme Edge. We’re the rhythm section and we’re really re-discovering some of the material that we made in those early albums, actually we only played for a day during the recording which in those days was not a lengthy process. To rediscover these songs and to play them every night is great.
“It’s difficult to choose a repertoire from so many songs. There are certain numbers we just have to play otherwise audiences will feel cheated, I know I would if I went to see an act and they didn’t play their hits.”
Asked about the band’s longevity in a fickle pop world, Hayward said that he thought this came about, not by design, but because they hadn’t been part of a fashion or a trend and didn’t go for celebrity. “We just focused on the music and we had a great record company in Decca who gave us the run of their studio and we were lucky to just be able to concentrate on the music on not have to worry about hit singles. People also love the music of their youth and that stays with them forever.”
His favourite tracks are from the 80s like “Your Wildest Dreams” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” because they had the best memories. “The 60s and 70s were frantic times for us because we were very ambitious, guys with strong egos. It was difficult for us and we were struggling against each other and trying to move forward.
He added: “Our mission today is to enjoy ourselves with the huge catalogue of music we’ve produced. This is the best form we could do it because we love playing live and are faithful to the recordings.”
The Moody Blues have sold more than 70-million records worldwide.
Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for over 45 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He is active in the freelance field and his work over the past 12 years has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He writes regularly for Artslink.co.za, The Citizen, South African Jewish Report, The Sunday Independent and is a contributor to "Eat Out" Magazine. He also contributes movie reviews on Mondays to The Gordon Hoffman Easy Morning Show on 1485 Radio Today (www.1485.org.za) and has worked on TV in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. After retiring from The Star in April, 1999, Feldman joined the PR and events management company, Dlamini Weil Communications, where he currently works as an entertainment and media consultant.