I hardly know where to begin to write this report. This was my 16th Moody Blues concert and I have to say it was my very favorite of all time. Not only the fact that it is on the DoFP 50th Anniversary tour, but for me this concert was just about as perfect as a concert gets.
First off, the day began with my meeting my very good on-line friends Cheryl and Katie for the very first time in person and spending time with them in the Art Institute of Chicago, which we have long wanted to do. A kind of dream that came true, you could say. And after that fun, amazing and emotional meeting, Cheryl and I took the Metra train up to the venue. Ravinia is a lovely place. It is open only in the summer months and looks like a beautiful park with a huge green lawn, shady trees and colorful flower beds. Then there is the open-air pavilion with a roof that covers the entire stage and seating area. It is a real summer tradition for people to come and sit on the lawn and bring wine and cheese and nibbles and listen to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and many other performers.
The weather could not have been better when we arrived at about 6:30 pm. Warm and sunny with a blue sky overhead and little white fluffy clouds here and there. The kind of summer's evening that makes you sigh. I picked up the tickets at Will Call and then Cheryl and I headed for the merchandise tables and got a few souvenirs. I was a little sad to see there were no tour programs. Is this a thing of the past? I would have loved one for THIS tour.
Then we moseyed down the sidewalk that snaked around the lawn area which was absolutely packed solid with people on folding chairs and blankets. Some had quite impressive drink and snack spreads. There was a real festival feeling in the air. Finally, we got to the pavilion itself and took a few photos. We texted Denise because we were so looking forward to meeting her and Diane. After a short while, we met up with Denise and her husband Steve and Diane for the first time ever and what a delight they are! We had an enjoyable conversation with them and Denise told us more about their really stormy experience in Milwaukee. So, in one day I got to meet FOUR of my on-line friends for the first time ever!
After a little while, they started allowing people into the pavilion and we were anxious to get to our seats. We had row P off to Norda's side, but I have to say that the seats were much better than they appeared on the seating chart when I bought the tickets. Cheryl and I were delighted with that of course. After a few moments, the lights dimmed on the stage and the band came on and plunged right into "Singer". The band's energy was very high right off the bat, as if they were already warmed up, even though the concert had just begun.
Throughout the entire concert, John and Justin's vocals were just perfect. I don't think I've ever heard them sound better. Song after song, they were spot on and strong, consistent. There was a tremendous energy in their playing. I have rarely heard them being more "on fire".
After the first half, the band took their break and Cheryl and I discussed what we had just seen. The fan sitting next to Cheryl was really into the show and told us that although he had been a fan for many years, this was his first-ever Moody Blues concert. We told him he certainly picked a special time to see them.
When the band came back on, I was feeling so excited to hear the album. I was certainly not disappointed. Of course, like all of us, I had wondered how the Ray and Mike songs would be handled. Although in my deepest heart of hearts I would have LOVED for Ray and Mike to have been involved in some way, Justin and John's handling of their songs couldn't have been more effective. And I was also impressed how beautifully the band were able to recreate those iconic Moodies harmonies on this album. I liked the way John and Justin shared the vocal duties on "Another Morning". And John did a beautiful job with "The Sunset".
The visuals behind the band were so very beautiful and suited each song so well in subject matter and feel, especially Tuesday Afternoon which had a video of fields of tall grass in the sun and lawns with shady trees. It so reminded me of Lyrdiard Park where Justin had written the song. I wondered if the visuals actually were Lydiard, but it was impossible to tell for sure. In any case, the video fit perfectly for the song and somehow added another dimension to it. It was at this time in the concert when it started to pour with rain. Although we were under the pavilion roof, we were feeling some of the spray, so everyone started moving seats along toward the middle of the theater. We moved probably about 4 or 5 seats in, which made our view even better. I kept wondering how all the poor fans out on the lawn were fairing because I mean it was bucketing down!
Justin did my now most favorite rendition of "Nights". His voice was perfect, just like on the album, with all of the emotion and passion of the original recording AND he did the long "Yeah-a-aaaa---aaa" descending lead-out of the song that I just adore.
Some reviewers have said that the mix was not right at the venue, with the vocals being drowned out by the instruments. Maybe it had to do with where you were sitting, because for me, everything sounded just about perfect.
One other thing I have to add. While we were leaving the theater I was amazed to see that most of the people with seats on the lawn were still there despite the torrential rain! I read a report from someone that people were dancing and singing along to Tuesday Afternoon in the storm!! That's the dedication of Moody's fans and the power of the music! Keeping the faith, John!