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The Moody Blues

Hall of Fame - Live At The Royal Albert Hall 2000

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve only seen the Moody Blues live once and it was a disappointing show. They pushed the sound system past the point of good music and into the distortion zone. I can’t tell you if their performance was good or not because I really couldn’t hear it. Well, as this live release shows, my experience might have been an exception to the rule – or their soundboard has a clean mix and that’s where this recording originated. Either way this is a great live recording and the show featured a symphony orchestra adding a lot of depth to many of the tracks. There are a few weaker tracks here, but overall this is a great set. It probably comes as close as any live recording I’ve heard to capturing the studio majesty of the group’s early sound. I’d highly recommend this to all fans of the Moody Blues.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Overture
A fully orchestral piece, this comes from Days of Future Passed and includes themes from various pieces of music that were on that album. It makes for a good introduction to the show.
Tuesday Afternoon
This bouncy rocker is a Moody Blues classic. The orchestra in the live performance venue is a great touch and makes it feel more like the album rendition. The chorus here has always been catchy and the whole track works really well.
English Sunset
At the time of this concert Strange Times was the most recent studio album from the band. This track comes from that disc. It’s a rocking number that seems more in keeping with the 1980’s era of the group than with the older motifs. That said, there’s still enough classic Moody Blues in the midst to please most fans. This is a good tune, but perhaps not a highlight of the set.
Words You Say

Another from the same disc, this one is far more in keeping with the older stylings of the Moody Blues. It’s very progressive rock oriented and very powerful. There are a number of intriguing musical changes and themes. I like this a lot – better than most. Since it lacks the years of familiarity of much of the music here that says a lot about the strength of this piece of music.

 

The Story In Your Eyes

Always a strong piece of music, this rocker is delivered in fine fashion. For me, though, the vocals to a lot of this feel too stark and it detracts from the tune. The orchestral arrangement on it is nice, though and we get some killer guitar work, too.

I Know You're Out There Somewhere
Coming from the more pure rock era of the band, this song feels closer to the traditional Moody Blues sound here. That said, it’s another where the vocals just seem a bit harsh in terms of their presence. The orchestra is used very sparsely on most of this track, but adds a little here and there.
Haunted
The final track from Strange Times to make the set, in an interesting change of pace tuned percussion starts this off. There’s almost a tribal feeling to the introduction. Of course, that gives way to a more mellow ballad approach that’s far more traditional Moody Blues. That percussion rejoins here and there, though. It brings with it a Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel styled world music element. There’s some crunchy guitar later in the track. This song gets quite powerful as it carries on later.
Your Wildest Dreams
Here’s another 1980’s song from The Moody Blues. This definitely has that modern rock feeling to it. It’s a good track, and one of their bigger hits, but it’s just not at the same level as a lot of the other material on show here.
Isn't Life Strange
This classic track always had a big symphony presence, so having the orchestra here really helps. I’ve always loved this soaring prog rock journey and the version here is among the best I’ve ever heard. I’d have to chalk this one up as one of the highlights of the set.
I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)
An early hard rocker from The Moodies, this is a great version. It’s got a lot of energy and they bring a bit of a soulful texture to it with the horn section. I like this one a lot. It seems that between “Isn’t Life Strange” and this track they are really starting to catch on fire. We get quite a hard rocking guitar solo (and an extensive one at that) on here, too.
Nights In White Satin
This is the biggie, arguably the most famous cut from the band. They rock it out a bit more here, but it’s a very successful rendition. I like this a lot in any form, but this performance is one of the better I’ve heard.
Legend Of A Mind
Here we get the psychedelic “Legend of A Mind.” The orchestra adds a depth and beauty to it. This is another inspired live performance and it rocks quite well.
Question
Another classic Moody Blues song I think that the orchestra really brings a lot to the table here. I’ve always like this one a lot and they put in one of the best versions I’ve ever heard.


Ride My See-Saw
They close the set with another Moody Blues classic and it’s uncanny how good this sound with the orchestra and all filling out the arrangement. What a great track this is. The psychedelic guitar solo is great and this has you wanting to hit the “play” button and start all over. Isn’t that what an album’s final track should always do?
 
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