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Pop : Moody Blues Play Their Favorite Hits

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So may I introduce to you . . . the act you’ve known for all these years . . . Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band--now appearing as the Moody Blues.

No, the Moodies were not especially Beatlesque on Friday night at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. But these old grads of the British Invasion were utterly Pepperesque.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you’ll recall, was not the Beatles, but a wry construct the Beatles used to poke affectionate fun at the notion of old-line musical performance. As they revolutionized rock, they pretended to be a likably nostalgic, play-your-faves ensemble.

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Which is precisely what the Moody Blues were at Irvine, except without a glimmer of ironic intent. This likably nostalgic, play-your-faves ensemble showed no great ambition, but, for the most part, its show served up small pleasures. For nearly two hours, longtime Moodies Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge, plus five backing singers and players, invited you to tap a toe, sing along to catchy classic-rock hits and take in a smattering of lightly enjoyable newer material, while ignoring any of the deeper possibilities of rock that the Beatles were trying to probe back in ’67.

The fact that the Moody Blues’ appeal is all on the surface today is itself a little ironic, because back in the ‘60s no band tried harder to be mysterious and deep. Today’s Moodies have cannily conceded that, in the ‘90s, fun plays better for them than profundity.


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