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Monday, August 13, 2018

Justin Hayward in Tarrytown


Mike Dawes, Justin Hayward, Julie Ragins
photo by Tina Vozick

Tina and I saw and heard Justin Hayward at Tarrytown Music Hall earlier this evening.  The concert, in one word, was splendid.   But here's more:

I often say that The Moody Blues, of which Hayward is still very much a member, is my fourth favorite rock group of all time, behind, in descending order, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys.  To be clear about what I mean by that:  I think the best of The Moody Blues songs - let's say "Nights in White Satin," "Tuesday Afternoon," "Question," "Isn't Life Strange," "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock 'n' Roll Band)," "Your Wildest Dreams," "I Know You're Out There Somewhere," to name just just a few, in no particular order, and there are more - are as good as the best songs by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys.  But I put these groups higher, because they have a lot more best songs - in the case of The Beatles, a lot lot more.

But The Moody Blues are up there, though not everyone agrees.  In 1992, after Tina and I saw The Moody Blues "Red Rocks" Concert on PBS, I queried Rolling Stone if they'd be interested in an assessment of The Moody Blues by me.  I received a snooty reply to the effect that no one was interested in The Moody Blues any more.  (Memo to young writers: That's why I decided to never again query an editor about a potential article.  My philosophy had usually been, before then, to write the article or story first, then shop it around. After 1992, my philosophy has always been that.)

But back The Moody Blues, Justin Hayward was always their stand-out member - being their best songwriter, singer, and guitarist all in one.   Of their songs I listed above, only two of them - "Isn't Life Strange" and "I'm Just A Singer" - were written by another group member, John Lodge.  Hayward has an ear for watercolor detail and an exquisite voice to match.  And he brought of all that to Tarrytown earlier tonight.

He indeed sang all of his songs listed above, and a fair number of new ones.  These were wonderful, too.  You can always tell what a performer is made of when you like his or her songs you never heard before.  I especially liked, among tonight's new ones, "In Your Blue Eyes" and "Western Sky" from Hayward's most recent Spirits of The Western Sky album.

He was joined tonight by Mike Dawes - a young maestro guitarist - and Julie Ragins on keyboards and fine backing vocals.   I suppose I would have rather been at a full Moody Blues concert, but not by an overwhelming margin.  That's because Justin Hayward captures the best of The Moody Blues, and a little something more, with a personal, honest, and charming repartee between numbers.




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