In May, the Moody Blues turn 50.
Even more incredible is that the core touring trio of singer/guitarist Justin Hayward, drummer Graeme Edge and bassist John Lodge has been intact nearly as long as well (Edge is an original; the others have been with the group for 48 years).
Their lush, symphonic art rock — immortalized in songs such as “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Nights in White Satin,” “Go Now” and “Question” — is balanced with an ’80s revival of poppier fare “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” and “Your Wildest Dreams.” And most — if not all — of it will be heard when the band, joined by four other musicians to help re-create their expansive sound, performs at the Fox Theatre on Friday.
Singer Hayward, 67, chatted recently from the band’s touring base in Philadelphia about what fans can expect at the show, how he feels about MP3s and his upcoming solo DVD, recorded at Buckhead Theatre last year.
Q: So May marks the 50th anniversary of the band. You joined a couple of years after the band formed, but still … did you ever think you’d see nearly 50 years together?
A: I never even thought about seeing next month, that’s the plain fact. Every night I’m appreciative that people are prepared to spend money to buy a ticket to see the band that played those songs, that’s how I feel about it. I’m reminded of it particularly at the end of “Nights in White Satin,” seeing what that song means to people.
Q: The three of you have been the core of the band since the mid-2000s. Are you friends as well as bandmates or do you really only see each other on tour?
A: God forbid, no! (Laughs.) I’ve known the other two guys since I was 19, that’s a whole lifetime. I can’t say it’s like family because it’s not that kind of relationship. But we’ve shared so many great things together. To have that experience when we were very young and then again to have had it in our 40s and be on MTV… that experience gives you something between you that is absolutely unique. It’s a cathartic experience that you go through every night. What we have in common is the group, nothing else.
Q: Judging from the set lists, you’re giving audiences a solid overview of the band’s career. But even with 19 songs, they probably want 29. How did you come up with this set list?
A: It’s never what we play, it’s what we leave out. There’s so much material. A couple of years ago, we were on the bus and looking at our catalog and realized there were some songs we hadn’t even listened to since recording them. I believe there is something for everybody (who comes to the show), something from every incarnation of the band, but most of them including me!
Q: Given the band’s lush, sweeping sound, how do you feel about people primarily listening to MP3s?
A: Well, it’s a fact of life. One of the reasons I wasn’t involved with “Timeless” was because I was doing my own solo album and it was when I was mastering that, iTunes wanted their own form of mastering, which was a completely new idea to me. It wasn’t bad, but it was acceptable. It’s Pandora’s box that’s opened, and it’s part of my life, too.
Q: How involved were you in compiling and remixing the material on (last year’s box set) “Timeless Flight”?
A: Sadly, not at all, but … I knew the things they collected for it were the right masters. I think it was a nice collection, but I wish they would have printed more. They sold out very quickly.
Q: Any plans to put this tour or material from your solo tour on DVD? A: Actually, my show from the Buckhead Theatre from August last year will be out on DVD. “Spirits … Live” will probably be the name of it.
Q: Why did you choose that venue to record?
A: It was a lovely venue. It is a lovely rectangular room, it’s clear and clean. There’s a logic about it and it has good sightlines. I think it was the last date of the tour and the musicians who were with me decided we should do it then.
Q: And how about this Moody Blues tour?
A: We’re looking toward doing a DVD next year. We’ve recorded some things and it’s very nice, so definitely maybe. For more music news, concert reviews and interviews, visit The Music Scene blog at AccessAtlanta.com.