Moody Blues’ John Lodge Plays Solo Tour: Review

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John Lodge (R) with Duffy King, City Winery, New York City, November 8, 2017 (Photo: Greg Brodsky)

This has been a big year for the Moody Blues and their fans, starting with their tour earlier this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of their early masterpiece, Days of Future Passed. Then came the news on Oct. 5 that the band was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018, decades after becoming eligible.

A few days later, their label announced plans to issue an expanded Deluxe Edition of Days of Future Passed, to be released Nov. 17 as a 2-CD/DVD set featuring the album’s newly restored original 1967 stereo mix, which makes its CD debut. (Details of the release, which includes a wealth of additional material, can be found here.)

And 2018 will bring more dates to the group’s Future Passed anniversary tour.

So what does the Moodys’ John Lodge do during his time off in between group tours? Why, tour with his own crackerjack band, that’s what. The five-piece group played New York’s City Winery on Wed. night (Nov. 8), the last of their 10 dates of what was billed as “The 10,000 Light Years Tour 2017,” named after the bassist’s own 2015 album.

Early on, the band performed one of those newer songs, “In My Mind,” and its trippy sound offers a late ’60s psychedelic vibe. Lodge has been one of the Moody Blues’ key songwriters and his 15-song set featured many of his contributions to the group’s legacy. His two Future Passed compositions were next. “Fifty years ago, we went into the Decca recording studios in London,” he said, “and a week later, we created an album that changed my life.”

The album’s symphonic parts that were recorded by the London Festival Orchestra certainly can’t be replicated by a five-piece band, but Norda Mullen on jazz flute capably filled in some of those glorious sounds on “Peak Hour.” And after the song’s church-organ segment from keyboardist Alan Hewitt, drummer Gordy Marshall led the band with a locomotive build-up as “Peak Hour” built to its crescendo. Guitarist Duffy King stood out.

Before introducing “(Evening) Time to Get Away,” Lodge told the audience, “I only sang them when we recorded them. I never, ever, in 50 years sang any of these songs on stage.”

When Lodge, who looks a decade younger than his 72 years, chose “Saved by the Music” from his Blue Jays collaboration with his Moody Blues bandmate, Justin Hayward, the City Winery audience cheered enthusiastically.

When Lodge asked the audience to stand and dance–a rarity at the venue with its tables and chairs setup–they happily did so for “Gemini Dream.”

The band ended the set with Lodge’s two contributions to the Moodys’ 1972 Seventh Sojourn, the contemplative “Isn’t Life Strange,” commanding the stage with the song’s echoey vocal augmented by beautiful flute and keyboards.

“I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” followed with all of its toe-tapping greatness. The lone encore–and another high mark–was Lodge’s 1968 “Ride My See Saw,” which the Moody Blues customarily close with.

John Lodge, November 8, 2017, City Winery, New York City Setlist

Steppin’ in a Slide Zone
In My Mind
Lean on Me (Tonight)
Peak Hour
(Evening) Time to Get Away
Get Me Out of Here
Simply Magic
Candle of Life
Saved by the Music
10,000 Light Years Ago
Nervous
Gemini Dream
Isn’t Life Strange
I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)

Encore
Ride My See-Saw

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Greg Brodsky

Greg Brodsky

Best Classic Bands Founder/CEO Greg Brodsky earned his first professional bylines as a reporter for the music trade weekly Record World. He still has all his vinyl albums and enjoys going to flea markets and garage sales to grow his collection.
Greg Brodsky
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  1. Bob
    #1 Bob 9 November, 2017, 22:31

    Saw the show back to back nights in New Hampshire. Nothing less than fabulous. John was incredible and sings like it was 50 years ago. Great cast More a flute and vocals sharp…the Moodies greatest drummer Gordy Marshall unreal. Allan Hewitt super performer on keyboards. Duffy King amazing showmanship and energy on lead guitar. Nice set of songs. Simply majic had me welling up in tears. Cant wait to see the next show.

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