Justin will be appearing on RTÉ One's The Late Late Show
this Friday the 27th of February @ 9:30pm.
For more information, visit the RTÉ One's web site...
How many cities and towns have we played since my last update? I think it’s around 23 or 24 and I can’t remember one that I didn’t enjoy. The Moody Blues family is such a great group of people to be with that I always think that we are lucky to have found each other, and that we all love playing this music so much. Have I said all this before? – Sorry if I have!
Some gigs stand out though, like the last one on the European leg of the tour in Frankfurt, at the beautifully rebuilt Opera House (gorgeous dressing rooms as well!). And, it was nice to be back in Helsinki, in that big old ice hockey stadium, as well as that crazy sweaty club in Copenhagen and the sweet sounding Heineken Hall in Amsterdam. None of us can remember playing Bradford with the band before, but we must have played the University there sometime in the 60’s or early 70’s. Maybe not?
Bradford was the first town I played with Marty Wilde after he gave me the gig. We played two shows a night at a club for a week (could it have been called the Locarno?), and I remember it being a kind of baptism of fire. I had never played a Northern club before, but Marty was so calm and cool he handled all the crowd noise and banter brilliantly and took it all in his stride. The Moodies UK tours can be hugely exciting but sometimes extremely tiring with the amount of bus travel between gigs (we drove from London to Bradford and back the same day on this last tour), but the response from the Moodies crowd is always absolutely brilliant. I do like touring the UK. And Livenation has asked us back.
Is music ‘instant art’? I believe it is, and as such can be very satisfying and cathartic for any artist. An acquaintance of mine who is an author can often only imagine her readers true reactions to her writing and believes that letters and ‘blogs’ about her work are too considered and mulled over to be truly revealing. She’s right of course - they are. Maybe I’m the exception but I have never thought about analysing my favourite writers and singer’s music looking for meaning. I think I prefer to be detached and let it take hold of me, not for me to take hold of it. A reader, or a listener’s imagination can sometimes fill a perceived void or vacuum with inaccurate supposition when really there is nothing to explore except the receivers own being.
I think most artists and writers never even have an audience in mind when they create. It’s hard enough just creating! I’ve come to believe that music comes into being out of necessity and often with ease. It doesn’t have to be great art, but it is true. Could it be that most of the time it’s created for an audience of just one? And that ‘one’ could probably not be named anyway because they have no name. They are a kind of longed-for ideal. The feeling that music can invoke, in an instant of time that is present and then gone, is disarmingly mysterious.
To come back to earth for a moment – in the studio, the loss of a magical take, or an inspired run through that was not recorded I always found hard to get past at the time – the ‘what if’ factor. But that’s what makes it such a beautiful occupation too. The possibility of magic! The possibility of sand through the fingers when you thought you had gold. Gold when you thought you had sand.
The classic ‘what if’ for us was in 1967 when we recorded some tracks for the BBC radio programme "Easy Beat" some time before the Decca studio recording for DOFP. We had been playing a lot of the songs that were later to be recorded for the album on stage in the earlier part of ’67 and it was only when we were all together in the van going up the motorway and we heard ourselves on the radio playing ‘Nights’ that we thought there might be something just a little bit different about the track.
By the time we got to our gig we had convinced ourselves that the BBC recording was a ‘one off’ moment and that we would never be able to re-create that vibe again. So, we eventually got hold of the radio engineer on the phone (who was Aiden Day, one of the UK’s greatest sound engineers - later to be one of the founders of Capitol Radio, and he told us he was so sorry but the Easy Beat tapes were re-used and recorded over for the next programme straight after broadcast. Can you imagine? Some time later, when we did the Decca recording, Derek Varnals engineering skill and Tony Clarke’s brilliant production brought the whole collection of songs to life, but I never forgot that original recording.
Quite recently I was in the reception of the BBC waiting to be escorted to a studio when a chap came up to me and told me that he had heard about the old Easy Beat recording - and that it had been transcribed and copied at the time by the World Service for overseas broadcast. Did I want a copy?
What do you think I said? I have the copy here.
The difference between the two recordings is the echoes. The old Decca echo chambers sounded so beautiful that they stand out as a special part of many of the Decca recordings of that era, not just ours. Some echos were actual ‘chambers’ or brick buildings on the roof at Broadhurst Gardens, with a speaker at one end of the room and microphones set at different distances down the long room.
Our performance is remarkably similar to the later album. So many of those early recordings were almost live in that there was very little double tracking, except for Mike’s beautiful Mellotron, and virtually no overdubbing. ‘Another Morning’, ‘Peak Hour’ and ‘Tuesday’ are so sparse in their recording but so effective in the engineering and production – and our performance.
Life has been really mad for me lately – I’ll bet you’re saying ”Yes, for me too! So what?” But I do hope 2009 will be a year in which we can somehow make the world a bit better.
At the moment the coming year seems like it will be another crazy touring whirl with a few different projects in the mix and The War of The Worlds too!
Off we go again.
If you weren’t there I would have had to invent you. And by the power that you bestow I should be able to. (Iris Murdoch)