With the band’s declared intention not to release any new albums for the foreseeable future, as well as their temporary moratorium on another Moody Blues Cruise in 2019, it seems safe to assume that all group activity has been placed on hold, at least for now. The Moodys’ upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the recent passing of former colleague Ray Thomas may have been seen as an opportunity for a respite, but in truth, the band has been mining past glories for at least a couple of decades.
It’s appropriate then that any live excursion look back towards the beginning, and with the 50th anniversary of their first great opus Days of Future Passed taking place in 2017, it made for an apt opportunity to turn full focus to it and celebrate an accomplishment that’s still hailed as one of the most formidable efforts of rock’s progressive period. With Jeremy Irons recruited for the narrative (“Breathe deep the gathering gloom…”), a superb widescreen visual display and a full orchestra subbing for the London Symphony, the three remaining members — vocalists/guitarist Justin Hayward, vocalist/bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge — along with their versatile four-piece backing band, celebrate a victory lap with the presentation of their performance at the Sony Centre of Performing Arts in Toronto. It’s a sweeping spectacle to be sure, one which finds the album’s rarely played material (“Dawn Is a Feeling,” “Peak Hour,” “Twilight Time” et. al.) given equal standing with the iconic classics “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin,” forming for the first time since the original recording a solid whole. The execution is immaculate of course and offered the opportunity to witness this recreation in its entirety is both a rarity and a wonder. The members’ reflections, included as a bonus feature, are an added plus.
Happily too, though Days Of Future Passed is the show’s centerpiece, other Moody’s classics from their catalogue are represented as well, sandwiching the album in a way that ought to please casual fans and ardent devotees alike. Naturally, there will be those who quibble about a specific omission, but with the inclusion of such songs as “Your Wildest Dreams,” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” “The Story in Your Eyes” and obvious encores “Question” and “Ride My See-Saw,” the band can be credited with making at least a cursory attempt to cull a satisfactory set of standards. The lack of tracks from Threshold of a Dream is in itself cause for consternation, but one can still hope that with the half-century anniversary of it and In Search of the Lost Chord now upon us, those efforts will also be given their due.
Naturally, there’s no guarantee that that will transpire. The effects of age and the Herculean task of rehearsing and reproducing such colossal accomplishments for the stage may prove too daunting to deliver. For the present however, Days of Future Passed Live offers a chance to revisit the past, one that clearly ought not to be missed.