Jackie Hope: Another 'Tuesday Afternoon'
Where were you in '72, or '82, '92, or even 2002? Well here's a factoid that'll knock your socks off and that'll make baby boomers feel older than dirt.
Dig this: the progressive rock group, the Moody Blues, has been performing together for nearly 50 years. The original band members formed the group in 1964. And a couple of Saturdays ago, they performed for a gaggle of old geezers at the Bismarck Civic Center.
Their website, www.moodybluestoday.com, says the group has been making records and touring nearly continuously since the launch of their first album, "Days of Future Passed," in November 1967.
Forty-six years, 18 platinum records and 55 million album sales later, they are still rocking the world of baby boomers, as well as quite a few of the boomers' boomlets. That's a lot of "Nights in White Satin."
Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward and John Lodge are the active members of the Moodies, and they bring an energy to the stage that would make anyone but maybe Miley Cyrus look lazy. Their songs have been fine-tuned over the years and include guitar-heroic instrumental riffs, doubled drum sets and drummers, and amazingly clear vocals.
"Nights in White Satin" sounds as haunting and pure as it did on the "Days" album. How do those guys do it? Geez Louise, that song was written in the key of G and goes a mile higher -- okay, an octave higher -- than "Silent Night" or "Happy Birthday," or any other song the rest of us sometimes try to sing
Heck, even Placido Domingo is now singing baritone on Verdi's greatest hits. At least according to Wikipedia, which we know is always right.
The Moodies' "The Voyage Continues -- Timeless Flight" tour flew them to Bismarck.
OK, they mostly travel by really big buses that look like they are tricked out with everything, including kitchen sinks. Anyway, the Moodies were in Bismarck, and guess who was in the front row, right in front of John's microphone. Yeah, nothing between us and them except about 6 feet of air -- electrified and magical air!
Oh, and did we mention the backstage tour? Wow, it makes your high school band room pale in comparison. Or at least go all moody and blue.
There was this herd of guitars all lined up, like folding chairs on one of those trolleys in the school cafeteria. There were two trap sets with all the bells -- literally! And whistles -- maybe whistles, not sure -- that keep the beat rockin' in your head and toes and all stops in between. There were Yamaha keyboards that gave us excruciating keyboard envy.
So what do you do when you are sitting in the front row, waiting for legends of rock 'n' roll to take the stage? You watch everyone else, right?
Look, there is Amazing Fan Guy. He is wearing a vintage concert tour shirt, to let us know this is not his first go-round. He is wearing a Moody Blues hoodie and carrying an armload of tees fresh from the vendor booth. Wonder if they make Moody socks? Well, one of us is sitting here in Doctor Who "Exterminate!" socks, so we're stylin' too.
Hey, here comes a T-shirt Guy, and he's wearing Led Zeppelin. Huh? Maybe he's going to the roller derby event that's being held concurrently in the other section of the Civic Center. Yeah, the Moodies are sharing this venue with the roller derby. They've probably shared billing with all the rock gods, and now they can add roller derby to their resumes.
And look, quick! It's a member of ZZ Top! Oh, never mind, just a septuagenarian hippie. Well, they did call prog rock "head music" back in the day. Duuuude.
The house lights dim, the stage lasers ramp up, the taped loop of hits is replaced by a rising and swelling orchestral chord, "Please welcome, the Moody Blues!"
We're on our feet and applauding. Cheering. It doesn't get any better than this! Hey, who's that screaming in my ear? Oh, it's me. Yeaaaaaahhh! And for more than 2 hours, we are transported to days of futures passed, to places only found in our wildest dreams and on a voyage through time on the wings of timeless melodies.
There on stage, just a few feet away from us, are these three guys. Legends of rock 'n' roll who are among the rock pantheon.
But really, they are just people, just three British guys. On that long ago night when Justin wrote "Nights in White Satin," do you think he could have imagined where that song would take him? And here we are, in the 21st century, listening to him sing the haunting words, "Just what you want to be, you'll be in the end."
May all our voyages be as timeless.