The Moody Blues rolled into Rio Rancho, New Mexico on February 27th with the sole purpose of entertaining an estimated crowd of 2,500 fans who didn’t want to travel all the way from Albuquerque to Denver to see them, but were willing to make the trek out to the Santa Ana Star Center.
The British rockers would have been successful in their goal even if they had only performed one of their two 50-minute sets. After opening the concert with Lovely to See You Again, My Friend, the band delivered an extremely polished version of Tuesday Afternoon- probably one of the songs that first attracted me to the Moody Blues many years ago.
You are aware, I assume, that the Moodies are one of Opus’ favorite bands. Although you may not completely understand everything about the life of that odd little comic penguin, one can hardly question his taste in music.
The light show was phenomenal as the band continued with Lean On Me Tonight, Never Comes the Day and Steppin' in a Slide Zone. Although the crowd clearly enjoyed the overall performance up to this point, The Voice was the first song to get the majority of the people up on their feet at the same time.
The remainder of the first set included spirited renditions of One More Time to Live, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere and The Story in Your Eyes.
My challenge during the subsequent 20-minute intermission was to bombard the audience with commercials on the jumbotron and ads on the ribbon board- forcing them to seek shelter among the concession stands located throughout the concourse. I think it is safe to say that I managed to sell a few beers.
The second set began with Your Wildest Dreams. It’s funny how I hadn’t thought about the video for that song in over two decades until I saw them in concert.
Isn’t Life Strange was easily the strongest performance of the evening. The best way I can think to describe that tune for someone not at the concert is to ask them to imagine watching a autumn-colored leaf drop from the top of a tall tree, rocking gently toward the ground, then catching a thermal breeze and rising ever so slowly back toward the fading sun. You know that it will eventually come to rest, but catch yourself hoping this one will defy the rules and remain aloft- thereby preventing the onset of winter. But it can't.
Before the people standing at the end of Isn’t Life Strange had a chance to reclaim their seats, they were sawn in half by bassist John Lodge ripping through The Other Side of Life. Another hit from the 80s!
The next tune, December Snow, was from their Krismas album released some 4 years ago- so it was new to me.
No other song of the evening was performed with more passion than Higher and Higher as percussionist Graeme Edge climbed down from his drum set to take the microphone. Armed with only a tambourine, Edge danced an energetic jig while chasing flutist Norda Mullen around the stage and flashing his highly contagious Cheshire grin at appreciative fans- all while surreal clips of historic Apollo missions and Neil Armstrong strolling on the moon were projected onto the giant screen behind the band. Even if you don’t click on any of the other links in this entry, be sure you do check out this one. It will give you a good idea of the amount of joy this artist has on stage.
Edge has the distinction of being the sole remaining member of the original Moody Blues formed in 1964. Newbies Justin Hayward and John Lodge have only been with the band for fourty-one years. It almost seems rude of me to not include the names of the other band members (two keyboardists and another drummer), but sometimes I'm like that. You’ll get over it.
Band member introductions were followed by a rousing performance of I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock 'n' Roll Band). The psychedelic 30-year-old concert footage on the backdrop would have been fun enough- but throw in the live performance on the stage in front and I began to appreciate how successful bank robbers must feel on payday.
I didn’t get to “see” the end of the show, as I had to make my way backstage in order to be ready to run the post-concert commercials. However, I had no troubles hearing as they closed with Are You Sitting Comfortably? and Nights in White Satin.
I was extremely disappointed when the concert director announced that the band would be performing Question for their encore instead of Ride My See-Saw which they reportedly played as the encore following a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada three weeks previously. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Question, but See-Saw is one of my favorite Moody Blues’ tunes. Much to my delight, the band returned to the stage and performed it as a second encore.
The only other song that I REALLY wanted to see the Moodies perform was Legend of a Mind. Maybe next time!