All You Need is Love

Moody Blues

Rosemont Theatre - Rosemont, IL

August 21, 1999

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 1999, Volume 6, #10

Written by John Metzger


There was a time when The Moody Blues were the kings of the concept album. Their first five releases were all thematic endeavors that combined pop and classical music with a sense of '60s mysticism and spirituality. More than thirty years later, four-fifths of the band is still intact. Their studio output has slowed to a trickle, and while still quite respectable, it's a far cry from the music that they created during the first half of their career.

Nevertheless, The Moody Blues have managed to maintain a core group of fans who are willing to follow the them just about anywhere. Over the years, they have honed their stage show with scientific precision and haven't strayed terribly far from the same basic set list in more than a decade. In the early '90s, they began incorporating into their concerts orchestras from the local communities where they were performing. Their latest tour, which is in support of their recent release Strange Times, is their largest undertaking to date.

Joining The Moody Blues for two sold-out shows at the Rosemont Theatre on August 21 was the 50-piece World Festival Orchestra. It was a true collaboration that worked brilliantly to bring the group's hit-laden set to life that is when you could hear them. At times, the orchestra was frustratingly inaudible above the roar of the band. Yet, when they did succeed in being heard, they underscored classic songs like Nights in White Satin with a subtle beauty and built Isn't Life Strange to a towering crescendo.

Perhaps feeding off the exuberant idolatry of the audience, The Moody Blues were more animated than on past tours. In addition, they seemed more unified as Ray Thomas actually delivered a pair of selections, including a touching rendition of For My Lady, and contributed far more fanciful flights on his flute. Even Graeme Edge stepped up to the front of the stage to deliver a new spoken word piece called Nothing Changes. The poem examines the coming millennial change and reflects on many of the band's earlier, more spiritual selections.

The Moody Blues' lyrics have always dealt with the topic of love, whether it's affection for another person or for the gift of life. Their lyrics carry a charming innocence of selfless devotion, and they've long sought to achieve and teach spiritual enlightenment through their music. In recent years, they've toned down many of their more cosmic musings, but have never shied away from the concept that love will solve the world's problems. The whirling dervish Legend of a Mind brought the ideals of peace and love to the forefront, while Question drove the point home with its pursuit of balance.

Indeed, The Moody Blues found their lost chord years ago. As Edge states in Nothing Changes, "Each of us are fine for we have all heard the word." That word, of course, is the love that resonates in each of us.

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Copyright 1999 The Music Box