If Nights In White Satin was the only hit that they ever wrote, from their remarkable Days Of Future Passed album, then that alone would be enough to elevate most bands towards the heady heights of legendary status. However, as having recently been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame proves, this eternal British band of brothers has created a peerless back catalogue of music and hits to be the envy of their contemporaries and pretenders alike. And in true troubadour fashion, bass player/singer John Lodge is committed to keeping these everlasting songs alive.
Lodge is currently playing a short tour of the UK, in support of his recently released 10,000 Light Years Ago album, which rocked up to the elegant church environment of The Cadogan Hall.
Striding onto the stage with his trusty Fender Jazz bass in hand and looking every inch the rock star from his cool confection of hair right down to his leather gear and boots, Lodge launched into Moody classic Steppin’ In A Slide Zone. With the first few rows of mostly female followers already out of their seats worshipping a superb set of songs like the 1970s never ended, Lodge put on a musical masterclass to rock’n’roll back the years.
Songs from the aforementioned recent release 10,000 Light Years Ago fitted in seamlessly with back in the day Moody tunes Peak Hour, (Evening) Time To Get Away and The Sunset. As did the surprise inclusion of Candle Of Life and the redemptive nuances of Saved By The Music.
Lodge prefaced his set of Moody classics, solo specials and deep cuts with both humorous and revealing anecdotes. Explaining how his fourteen-year-old self met with Ray Thomas on a Birmingham bus and resolving to start a band together called El Riot And The Rebels which eventually became The Moody Blues, he and his crack band of musicians played a head-spinning version of Thomas’ raga infused Legend Of A Mind.
A willingness to experiment with music has been an essential component in the longevity of artists such as Lodge. The epic breadth and scope of musical styles and feelings are what has given the Ivor Novello awarded Lodge a long and rewarding career. Just hearing the tricky arrangement of the title song to his current release with its progressive and psychedelic time changes and melody is to witness a masterly performance in itself.
Major props must be awarded to the band with guitarist Duffy King, cellist Jason Charboneau, drummer Billy Ashbaugh and keyboard wizard Allan Hewitt (who also produces Earth, Wind & Fire) effortlessly enjoying every note of this evening’s performance.
Dipping into the wondrous well of Moody tunes, Lodge and band played searing takes of Gemini Dream, Isn’t Life Strange and I’m Just A Singer In A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band. And he was finally joined by Yes singer Jon Davison to blast the loon pants off the punchy, psychedelic hit song Ride My See-Saw to close a consummately played show of one of rock music’s finest songbooks.
The aftershow included both The Who and Small Faces drummer Kenny Jones and actor Robert Powell, who revealed how both he and fellow actor Dennis Waterman almost went deaf after appearing onstage with The Who in the mid-70s.
A wistful Lodge also recalled being paid £20 as a sixteen-year-old for a gig in my hometown of Ellesmere Port in 1961. Tonight’s magical show by this mighty Moody Blue completed a career come full circle back in this majestic hall just off Chelsea’s Sloane Square and topped off a splendid evening of classy entertainment from a true British musical legend.