Every once in awhile someone has a good idea that actually turns out well. That is what happened when The Moody Blues decided to record a live album backed by The Colorado Symphony Orchestra. The result, A Night At Red Rocks With The Colorado Symphony Orchestra, was recorded to celebrate the 25th anniversary release of Days Of Future Passed.
The Moody Blues, especially during what is known as their core seven album period, used heavy elements of a classical sound to produce some of the most creative albums in rock history. While Days Of Future Passed credits The London Festival Orchestra, it would be Mike Pinder’s mellotron that would provide the orchestral backing which would make the group famous. During the 1980s, with Patrick Moraz replacing Mike Pinder, they would move in a progressive rock direction but would continue to play their classic material live.
September 9, 1992 found The Moody Blues backed by a full orchestra, plus extra keyboardists and backing vocalists. This performance, released in March of 1993, would be a definitive live statement by one of rock’s signature groups. While I am reviewing the original CD release; the concert has been reissued in its entirety as a two disc set plus has now been issued in DVD form as well.
A Night At Red Rocks does not replace any of their studio albums but stands along side of them as it presents their songs with new textures and a depth that make them unique listening experiences.
The concert and the album can be divided in three distinct sections. The first part focuses upon lush orchestration. If there was ever a song made for this type of performance, “Tuesday Afternoon,” is it. Justin Hayward’s voice floats out over the sound and when Ray Thomas’ “For My Lady” follows, it quickly establishes the fact that the listener is in for a special experience. John Lodge’s “Lean On Me (Tonight),” which was originally issued on Keys Of The Kingdom, is almost a brand new and superior song. “Lovely To See You,” from On The Threshold Of A Dream, was a track I had not thought about in awhile but here is takes on a memorable life of its own.
The middle third of the album is just the basic core of The Moody Blues without the orchestration. Songs such as “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” from Sur la Mer, “The Voice” from Long Distance Voyager, and “Your Wildest Dreams” from The Other Side Of Life are all solid performances and show off the best of their progressive rock period.
The final section is basically one stunning performance after the other as The Moody Blues perform many of their best known hit songs. “Isn’t Life Strange” and “The Other Side Of Life” set the table for what will follow. “I’m Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band” is John Lodge at his best as the Moodies rock with full orchestral sound. “Nights In White Satin” is perfection as rock and classical music fuse together. “Question” is a showcase for Justin Hayward’s voice and acoustic guitar playing. “Ride My See Saw” is the grand finale and concert closer as The Moody Blues rock into the night.
A Night At Red Rocks With The Colorado Symphony Orchestra is a must for any fan of The Moody Blues. It is a wonderful companion to their studio releases and fills in some large gaps in their career. Hopefully The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame is listening.