Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018 | 2 a.m.
The Moody Blues, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, have become quite comfortable at Encore Theater since they started performing a sort of mini-residency there in January. But Vegas has always been a good fit for the English progressive and art-rock group; the Moodies have been playing the Strip for decades.
“We’ve always had a great time in Vegas and I think Moodies fans are quite happy to travel and come see us wherever we are,” says bass guitarist, vocalist and songwriter John Lodge. “To be in one place for a while where they know where we are and they make plans and meet up with other friends from around America in Las Vegas, music does that, brings people together from everywhere.”
The band opens its next series of nine shows at Wynn tonight and is still playing two sets for these Vegas shows, one a sort of greatest hits collection through various eras and the second a full performance of the 1967 classic album “Days of Future Passed. Here’s the rest of my conversation with Lodge:
Has spending extra time in Las Vegas allowed you to explore the city a bit?
Yes. We first started appearing in Las Vegas at Caesars Palace before all those renovations, before it was two buildings. I’ve had plenty of time to travel around, go out to Red Rock and go into the desert, and we’ve really seen Vegas expand. And being a golfer, I was there when they opened up Badlands and Shadow Creek and that was great fun. Earlier this year I got to go see the Righteous Brothers, one of the greatest acts ever, and of course Bill Medley has [reformed the act] and he was just brilliant.
What is it about Wynn that made you want to return for so many more shows this fall?
They really look after us well and we really like the resort, it just makes you feel welcome. One thing about Vegas is that everyone is a part of it. It seems as if everyone who works in the resort wants it to be successful and everyone is excited about the artist or show going into that theater. That, to me, is the success of Las Vegas.
You’ve been digging deep back into “Days of Future Passed” for more than a year now. What’s it been like to revisit these songs?
Well we realized people do want to hear this album again and [in the spring] we just released the DVD of the concert we did in Toronto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to mark the album’s 50th anniversary. We went in for two days and re-recorded the whole album live and just released that on DVD and vinyl. It’s all part of this celebration.
Playing those songs returns your audience to a different time and feeling in their lives. Do you have a similar experience when you’re performing?
That’s one of the interesting things we found when we went back and listened to the original recordings in-depth, not the ones that have been remastered over the years but the original tapes, and it was amazing how it sort of jumps you back to 1967. I’m sitting in the studio with my Fender amp and bass surrounded by soundboards and it took me right back to that period. I remember everything that went on in those moments. When we came to do the live album, we knew what we were trying to achieve, not to replicate it but to say if we made that album today could we get the same feeling?
Do the meanings of the songs change over time?
As we’ve played them through the years so many different things have happened, but each song really takes on its own little history. People have been married while we performed “Nights in White Satin” or come up to the front of the stage and proposed. That’s one of the wonders of creating music — you never know what’s going to happen and there have been the strangest things. You have no idea that what you’re creating is going to bring these things forth.
Are you planning to work any deep cuts or different songs into the Wynn shows?
I think from the deep cut point of view, that’s something I do when I’m on the road with my own band as well. Songs like “Candle of Life” or “Saved by the Music” and other songs we’ve never done in the Moody Blues that I really enjoy playing. But that’s for me and I enjoy listening to albums and finding songs. The Moodies are doing the two sets and we’re giving the audience [what they want]. I’m just a singer in a rock and roll band and I enjoy doing that every night.
The Moody Blues will perform at 8 p.m. September 19, 21, 22, 26, 28 and 29 (and October 3, 5 and 6) at Encore Theater (3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-770-9966) and more info can be found at wynnlasvegas.com.