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Justin Hayward brightens Tuesday Afternoon with stellar show in Birmingham - review

By James Driver-Fisher | Music | Published:

There are few, if any, voices to match Justin Hayward's.

Justin Hayward

And last night at Birmingham Town Hall the crowd were treated to 'The Voice Of The Moody Blues' at his finest.

Being a second generation fan – as in my dad and uncle introduced me to him, among so many other rock icons, while I was growing up – it was so nice to see such an iconic performer live on stage for the first time.

As with so many stars from the 60s, 70s and 80s, you can never be 100 per cent sure if they will live up to your expectations. After all, they are no spring chickens, and yet when it comes to someone of Hayward's quality their voices just never seem to change.

You can take all your 90s Britpop because when it comes to a performance live on stage, no one does it like the rockers of yesteryear.

Who Are You Now? – what a superb opening track. Chilled, laid back, finger-picking guitar at its best, and the chance for Hayward's voice to take over and dominate the acoustics of the town hall.

Dawning Is the Day perhaps has the great bridge in folk/rock music, 'Wake up in the morning, to yourself, and leave this crazy life behind you'.

Tuesday Afternoon, another wonderfully simple yet stunning song. 'I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way'. It certainly felt like we were.

Voices in the Sky, from the sublime album In The Search Of The Lost Chord, followed by the song that perhaps showcases his range the best.

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Are You Sitting Comfortably? he asked us. We were indeed, very comfortably, and so relaxed.

In between songs, he took time out to reminisce about his childhood, early career and the reasons why he continues to perform and tour – at such a high level, it has to be said. We were just grateful he still enjoyed singing to us.

Then it was time to click, clap and sway in time with the band as he launched into Haunted –even the couple in front us who 'shushed' anyone who dared to utter a word during the performance got involved. One of my pet peeves, right there.

Anyway, After The Western Sky, it was time to get down to some serious classics.

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Forever Autumn is such a beautifully written and composed song. It touches a heart string for me, bringing back memories of dear old dad, but it's the build up that really makes.

Hayward's voice was once again pitch perfect as he broke out into 'now you're not here'. When the drums entered and the bass took off, the song launched us into the stratosphere.

He slowed things down a bit afterwards with Never Comes the Day before picking up the pace again, going a bit more 80s techno, with Your Wildest Dreams.

It's amazing how the Moody Blues conquered the charts in the 60s and 70s, disbanded, reformed after most band members had enjoyed successful solo careers – or in Hayward and John Lodge's case, wonderful double acts – before reforming and again drawing in even more fans in the 80s.

Then followed my favourite, Question. There are so many elements to the track it's hard to keep up sometimes – it's almost three different tunes merged into one.

Nights in White Satin, followed by Blue Guitar, then really blew us away.

Everyone knows the Moody Blue's classic, but Blue Guitar is arguably up there with the best. A simple rock guitar solo giving way to Hayward's unmistakable voice.

Maybe it's just Hayward's voice that makes every track sound brilliant. Either way, the chorus is brilliantly composed.

'If you don't know the song, If you can't put the words to the tune. Tell the rhyme from the reason, what should it matter, to the fool or the dreamer?'.

And then he hit us with The Story in Your Eyes, a nice funky, way to draw proceedings to a close, before another blast of 80s magic with I Know You're Out There Somewhere.

As the crowd rose to their feet to give Hayward and the rest of the band a standing ovation, we all left knowing we had witnessed something truly special. It's always nice when a singer lives up to your expectations.

James Driver-Fisher

By James Driver-Fisher

Motorsport journalist and entertainment and food reviewer for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star.

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