Moody Blues Hit High Nostalgia Note
By Lynn Saxberg

OTTAWA-Between the B-52s electro party tunes and the Moody Blues psychedelic prog-rock, last night was a nostalgic celebration for the majority of the audience at Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest.

It was also a giant birthday party for Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon, who turned 52 yesterday, marking the occasion on the main stage with his band, the Bacon Brothers.

After singing Happy Birthday to Bacon, most of the crowd seemed to gravitate towards the Moody Blues, although technically, the headliner was the B-52s.

An early evening shower cooled things down nicely, just in time for the Moodys’ meticulously constructed songs.

The modern version of the British classic rockers consists of longtime members Justin Hayward on guitar and vocals, John Lodge on bass and Graeme Edge on drums, the lineup augmented by a second drummer, two keyboardists and a talented flautist, all much younger than their aging counterparts.

They set sail with The Voice, followed by a string of classics, including The Day We Meet Again, Stepping in a Slide Zone, Gypsy and the crowd favourite Tuesday Afternoon.

Handling most of the lead vocal duties was bandleader Hayward whose voice was clear and strong, though not quite so angelic as in the old days. It helped to have the others on background vocals, especially the two female musicians.

As for the music, it lived up to the exacting standards that Moody Blues fans expect, with dazzling keyboards, intricate guitars, precise drumming and the classical-sounding strains of the flute.

Peak Hour was a demonstration of their psychedelic roots, while I Know You’re Out There Somewhere and Your Wildest Dreams and Story in Your Eyes were enthusiastically received.

Drummer Edge earned the biggest laugh of the night with his comments about turning 69.

“It means I’ve lived through the ’60s twice,” he said. “The first time, it meant peace, the second time, it means Viagra. If you think about it, the drug of choice may have changed, but it’s still sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.”

The pace of the show slumped with a couple of forgettable songs, but the band saved its best for last, proudly unfurling Just a Singer, Nights in White Satin, Question and Ride My See Saw as the sun set.

Earlier in the evening, birthday-boy Kevin Bacon and his older brother, Michael, led their band, the Bacon Brothers, through a tasty set of rootsy rock, beginning with the lilting Tell Me What I Have To Do from their latest album, New Year's Day.

Both brothers played guitar and sang, while their songwriting style ranged from the harder edge of Wild Life to the soft rock of Haven’t Got A Heart. The highlight was Kevin’s quirky song about a giant squid called Archie that featured Michael on cello.

Kevin, who mentioned that he had gone for a run along the Rideau Canal, was clearly the main attraction, judging by the fans near the front of the crowd who were determined to snap photos of themselves showing Bacon in the background.


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