Knights Ride High on Satin Finishes

They don't trouble the pop charts, but the Moody Blues remain in demand, writes Michael Dwyer.

To reach the chord is our life's hope," the Moody Blues declared on one of their rock-classical concept albums of the 1960s. "To name the chord is important to some, so they give it a word and the word is . . . O ."

"To be honest, I was pretty stoned at the time," says Justin Hayward, one of the band's three mainstays revisiting Melbourne this week. "Most of us were then, more or less all the time.

"It was a time when we were searching for some kind of enlightenment in our own lives, spiritually, psychedelically, so we saw music as a story, a revelation, a seeking thing."

Countless seekers have found now since the Moodies' high-concept rock was banished from the forefront of fashion. Still, the ethereal ilk of Nights In White Satin have never been in bigger demand. "We're offered more shows than we ever were in the '60s and '70s," he says. "We could work every night of the year."

Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge have only spent three years apart since their innovative stereophonic pop-orchestral debut, Days of Future Passed, made them global stars in 1968. They've continued releasing records, most recently December, a concept album about Christmas. But it's Hayward's alluringly mystifying Nights In White Satin - a million-selling hit in many countries on multiple occasions - that remains their signature.

He remembers being moved when he wrote it, perched on his bed in a slightly dejected mood at 1am in 1967, but "thought it was a bit inaccessible to anybody else . . . It came straight from the heart, I guess," he says. "I suppose there's a lot of truth in it. I do write letters I never mean to send. And that line, 'Just what you want to be you will be in the end', I've come to believe that's true.

"As a record it's curious," he says, "because whenever I hear it on the radio, I think, 'There's nothing on it'. A really thin guitar, no double tracking, a Mellotron and a lot of echo."

Well, there's also that flute solo, a melody momentarily misplaced when flautist Ray Thomas called it quits in 2002. The band eventually found Norda Mullen to fill his boots, "but it's not easy finding a rock'n'roll flute player," Hayward says.


WHERE The Palais Theatre, St Kilda

WHEN Sunday night


DETAILS Tel: 1300 136136; 9537 2444

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