Isn't It Time They Got Their Due?

By Graham Rockingham, For The Hamilton Spectator

"One of the great injustices in pop music is the failure of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to recognize the Moody Blues. Each year, the Internet fan sites go wild as the pioneering English band gets passed over yet again.

Last year, the oversight was particularly stinging as fans watched ABBA and Genesis get welcomed into the Hall of Fame fold over their beloved Moodies.

The debate still rages about whether ABBA should even count as rock 'n' roll. And Genesis? Where would Genesis be without the Moody Blues to blaze the progressive rock trail in the late '60s.

The Moodies were experimenting with classical fusion and themed albums years before critics came up with the "prog-rock" label that would later be used to identify '70s bands such as Genesis.

Ironically, the Hall of Fame's failure has only added to the Moody Blues' popularity. In recent years, ticket sales for Moody Blues shows seem to be on the upswing, even as the three remaining members from the mid-'60s enter their late 60s (drummer Graeme Edge recently enjoyed his 69th birthday while bassist John Lodge turns 65 July 20 and singer Justin Hayward clocks in at a relatively young 63).

"Everytime we get passed over by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there's such an outrage on the Internet that it's probably good for our career," joked Edge before the first of two Moody Blues' concerts last night at Hamilton Place.

Last night's show, attended by more than 1,500 loyal fans, was an add-on after the first announced show tonight sold out. Six years ago, the last time the Moodies played Hamilton, the band played just one show.

There's two major reasons the band continues to draw. First, it can still play. Hayward, looking astonishingly blond and trim, still has lost none of his vocal power. He still sings with the elegance of English nobility. John Lodge, perhaps a tad over-coifed, still brings a rock 'n' roll swagger to the band. Edge, the elder poet, can't hammer the drums like he once did, but his presence adds a touch of light humour.

Besides, whatever the three may be lacking in musical chops is more than made up for by their four backing musicians, including second drummer Gordon Marshall. During the five years from 1967 to '72, the Moody Blues produced seven classic albums, starting with Days of Future Passed and ending with The Seventh Sojourn. The band were at the forefront of a push to take rock 'n' roll out of the garage and into a place approaching art.

The Moody Blues didn't smash or burn their instruments, but they did force rock fans to sit down and listen. The Moodies were the Pink Floyd for nice people.

Last night they performed for 2 1/2 hours, offering up classics such as Tuesday Afternoon, Nights in White Satin, Question, Never Comes the Day, the Story in Your Eyes, Are You Sitting Comfortably and I'm Just a Singer in a Rock 'n' Roll Band. They threw in a couple of new ones (post 1972), even one from the '90s, but they were mercifully short. It was mainly the old stuff the fans had come to hear."

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