Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Moody Blues: Lovably Dorky

And I mean that in the best possible way. Tonight's Moody Blues concert at the Bank of America pavilion released my inner dork in a way previously thought impossible. It was fantastic.

The Moody Blues are, along with Yes, the standard-bearers of what someone once called "Gentleman Rock," a subset of Prog-Rock that features heartbreakingly earnest lyrical forays into science fiction and fantasy, outer space, and Romantic imagery. My introduction to the Blues came via a cassette given to me in high school by my friend Laura T., who had taped a greatest hits album off of vinyl.

The first track, as I remember, was "The Question," which starts off with a machine-gun acoustic guitar chorus and then segues into a slower verse before revving up again for the acoustic chorus. Great song. Other favorites from this album: "Ride My See-Saw," "I'm Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)," and "The Actor." And then there were the sillier ones, like "Dear Diary," which featured a spoken-word recitation of a man's banal diary entries (ahem), and "Legend of a Mind," which spoke of Timothy Leary and riding astral planes and so forth.

I played this tape a lot. It was bombastic but irresistable. Sadly, in 1998, I left it, along with nine other tapes, under the bed in a room at the Lamplighter Motel in Alamosa, Colorado.

I was impressed at tonight's show by the performers' unabashed appreciation for the adulation and love that the crowd showered on them. A lot of bands these days barely acknowledge the audience -- that's the cool way to play it, and your hipster audience doesn't want a lot of fan - performer interaction: "We're here to appreciate this music, dammit, so let's not have a lot of spontaneous expressions of joy!"

Not so with this Moody Blues show. The band led the crowd in clapping. They waved a lot. They accepted bouquets of flowers from those in the front row. They smiled, laughed, and danced around. It was infectious. For a moment I thought I might be experiencing a bit of what the Summer of Love, Flower Power vibe must have felt like -- a time when music, and politics, could be earnest and serious but at the same time joyful.

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