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Moody Blues

Some 45 years ago, the Moody Blues released Days of Future Passed, a heady concept album that put the British progressive rock band on the rock music map. Speaking via phone from his studio/office in Southern France, singer-guitarist Justin Hayward says the album still astonishes him. Four years ago, he participated in the re-mastering process for a 5.1 surround sound mix and was struck by the sonic achievement. “It came home to me, the quality of the album,” he says. “I was listening to that and I realized, ‘How the hell did we do this?’ That’s still my overriding feeling about it. At the time, I thought we were making an arty piece of work and I’d be interviewed in The Guardian or invited to some cocktail party. That was the height of my ambition, and not for a moment did I feel like it’d have any commercial success. My feelings now are of surprise that it had that success, and how on earth did we make it?” While the album works best as a whole, its signature track quickly became “Nights in White Satin,” a tune that has subsequently appeared in countless movies and even been the subject of an amusement park ride. “It’s a very strange with ‘Nights,’” says Hayward. “I never really knew [why it became so popular]. I know we enjoy singing it and we get a kick out of it. That’s the case with all of the stuff from ’66 to ’74. We enjoy it more and more the older we get. In truth, the first time I heard the song was last year when Bettye Lavette did ‘Nights.’ My wife came in with an email. I was still in bed. I opened it and played the song. Most of the cover versions have been somebody with romantic strings. I can’t say I’ve ever been impressed by another version. That’s the first time I heard the song. I thought, ‘That’s a fucking great song.’” While the group’s material from the ’80s had more pop crossover appeal than the music from its artier past, Hayward says the band enjoys playing those songs as much as the ones from the ’60s, so expect to hear a good mix of material at tonight’s concert. “Our core audience are people who picked us up in the ’80s,” he says. “For me personally, that was the greatest time of my life. I was straight and working with a fantastic producer, Tony Visconti, and suddenly when I was 40 I was having hits on MTV; that was sensational. We loved every minute of it. ‘I Know You’re Out There Somewhere’ is my personal favorite to do on stage. It’s a winner.” (Jeff Niesel)

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