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The Moody Blues

Days of Future Passed Live

Review by Gary Hill

In 2017 The Moody Blues album Days of Future Passed turned 50 years old. It's hard in retrospect to understand just how much of a game-changer that album was, merging symphonic music and rock into a concept album. In honor of the occasion, the Moody Blues performed the album from start to finish with orchestra for their tour. This double disc live album captures their Toronto show. They lead off with a number of great songs from the rest of their career on the first CD. The second disc includes the full album of Days...along with two classic Moodies songs as encores. The band these days consists of Graham Edge, Justin Hayward and John Lodge along with other musicians rounding out the touring band. They really sound great on this CD.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD 1
              
I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)

As drums bring this into being Graham Edge, Justin Hayward and John Lodge are introduced. This is a pretty strong rendition of the classic from the act. The vocals seem a little high in the mix to me, though. A female backing vocal in particular seems to far up in the mix, creating an interesting, but a bit off-putting alteration in the general sound of the piece. Still, those little quibbles aside, this rocks. In fact, the extended guitar solo section at the end really screams.

The Voice
The keyboard introduction sets the stage, and they work it out to the song proper in style from there. This comes across more in keeping with the studio recording. This has always been one of my favorites from these guys (I used to play it in several bands), so it's great to hear this live recording of the cut.
Steppin' In A Slide Zone
A cool mellow introduction begins this before a rocking guitar creates some lines of contrast to bring this into being. This introduction has a real bluesy rocking vibe to it. The cut works out from there in style. This is a solid live performance. I love the guitar soloing on the later jam.
Say It With Love
A bit more of a mainstream rocker, this is a cool cut. It has some solid hooks and is effective.
Nervous
This cut has always seemed perhaps a bit Beatles-like to me. It's one I've liked over the years, and this live version really works so well. I'm glad they included this performance. I think I might like this better than the studio version.
Your Wildest Dreams
The keyboards bring this in with style. It works out from there into the song proper. This works well.
Isn't Life Strange
Like on the studio version, this starts with a very symphonic treatment. The first vocals come over that backdrop. It gets into a more full band treatment as it works forward, yet it gets alternated by a return to the symphonic. This has always been a cool tune, and this live telling stands up well to the studio rendition.
I Know You're Out There Somewhere
A song that is distinctly set in the pop rock period of the Moody Blues, this works quite well in this live telling, too. In fact, I might like this version better than the original. The addition of the female voice here is a bonus.
The Story In Your Eyes

Another classic Moody Blues tune, this is an energized prog rocker. I am a big fan of the studio version, and I think this one stands well alongside that performance. There is some scorching guitar work on this thing, too. The rocking closing section is on fire.

CD 2
              
Days of Future Passed
                   
The Day Begins

Symphonic elements lead this out in style. After this segment moves out the classical stylings taking on a bouncy, dancing kind of sound. Around the two minute mark it drops down again. A more serious symphonic movement paints some intriguing pictures as this continues. Musical themes that will show up later in the album emerge as this continues. This cut works its way through purely symphonic.

Morning Glory
Symphonic elements serve as the backdrop for a poetry reading here. This does a nice job of capturing the feeling of the studio version. If anything, I think I like this better than the studio version. Some powerful symphonic themes stream across the landscape like the rays of light that they represent before settling to calm.
Dawn (Prelude)
A short symphonic introduction, this literally is a prelude for the next cut.
Dawn Is a Feeling
The first real "song" of the album, this has a folk prog texture to it. The strings add a richness to the sound. The symphonic elements take place later in the track to draw it to its close.
The Morning (Prelude)
This is another short introductory symphonic piece.
Another Morning
Coming out of the introductory thing, there is a lot of classical music along with more folk prog built into this cut. It's bouncy and rather fun. The choruses bring some great peaks. The occasional female vocal brings something special here. It moves to pure symphonic sounds around the three minute mark. That takes it to the end.
Lunch Break (Prelude)

Energetic classical music really paints a picture of movement and busy scrambling around.

Peak Hour

An energetic rocker, this makes good use of the female vocals on this live treatment. It's a classy cut. An instrumental movement later foreshadows some later themes of the disc and has a real 1960s rock vibe. The organ lends an interesting retro texture.

Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)

While it might be an obvious choice, this is one of the highlights of the original album. They put in a particularly effective and strong live performance of it here, making this a highlight of this second disc. It works through the shifts and changes in fine style and really just works so well. It ends with another symphonic bit.

Evening (Time To Get Away)

This is a less obvious choice, but is another of my favorites on the main album. The slow, measured progression on this just oozes cool. I would say that this kind of piece was probably a big influence on Alan Parsons. Some of the later parts are built more on folk rock and psychedelia. This live performance might actually surpass the studio rendition.

The Sun Set (Prelude)

Another symphonic piece, this makes for a nice interlude. It's only 40 seconds long.

The Sun Set
The percussive based arrangement on this is very much a psychedelic and folk styled piece.
Twilight (Prelude)

Another short interlude, this one is less than half a minute long.

Twilight Time

They rock things with style on this number. It's more in line with the psychedelic rock styles, but still decidedly prog rock based. Of course, when this was originally released, there was no such thing as progressive rock. In many ways, this album was part of the blueprint for progressive rock. It drops around the two and a half minute mark to symphonic elements to carry forward.

Late Lament

This poetry reading is done pretty faithfully from the album.

Nights in White Satin
As much as I love the studio version of this song, I think this new live telling might be better. It feels more vital. The audience really goes nuts at the end of this one, creating a bit of a delay before the closing piece to the album.
The Night (Finale)
Symphonic sounds built on themes we heard at the start of "Nights in White Satin" create the closer to the album experience.
Encore

   

Question

This classic Moodies number is delivered in style here. It has always been a fine example of both the mellower and more rocking sounds of the group, and the balance between them. That point is driven home on this version.

Ride My See-Saw
Another Moody Blues rocker gets a killer live performance here. The female vocals brings something extra to it, as does the orchestra. This makes a great final encore because it really works well.

 

 
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