Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Justin Hayward Solo Tour, 2013

Justin Hayward in Concert at the World Cafe Live at the Queen, Monday 8/5/2013

Justin Hayward from my seat... not zoomed 
I have had a good run of live music over the past couple of years, but I can honestly say that I have never in my life looked forward to a concert as much as the one I saw last night - Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues touring solo and acoustic in support of his new solo album Spirits of the Western Sky. Justin is my favorite musician of all time, and the opportunity to see him in a place as intimate as we did was something that I never thought I would get to experience. The World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington Delaware is a tiny place that seats maybe 300-400 people on a ground level and a small balcony. When buying the tickets a few months ago, I logged onto the ticket website as they were going on sale and got two seats in the center of the first balcony row. We were literally on top of the stage. It turns out brother Dave and his Darling Wife also had tickets, and sat a one row back and to our left. She is almost as big a Justin Hayward fan as me. Almost.

The band was Alan Hewitt on keyboards, Julie Ragins on keyboards and backing vocals, and Mike Dawes on guitars. Hewitt and Ragins have been part of the Moodies backing band the last few tours. Dawes was a new one for me, and a spectacular guitarist in his own right. He opened the show on his own and played four songs, similar in style to Andy McKee who Dave and I saw open for Eric Johnson a couple years ago. Amazing.

I have to admit that after a not-so-satisfying Moodies show last fall in Atlantic City, I had doubts as to whether Justin could perform well live anymore (he is 66 years old after all). In that show, they skipped songs on the set list and Justin seemed to struggle throughout the show. After seeing this, I am willing to chalk that up to an off night or an illness. In this set of 5 songs from the new solo album and 11 Moodies songs, Justin was simply terrific. It was wonderful to see some of these classic old songs in acoustic arrangements in such a small venue. Of the songs they did, despite having attended over a dozen Moodies shows, I am pretty sure I have never seen It's Up to You, The Land of Make-Believe, or It's Cold Outside of Your Heart. After that many shows, seeing an old chestnut that I have not seen live before is a special treat.

The exact set list is below, and courtesy of the omni-present iPhones, links to either the exact performances we saw in Wilmington or other shows on the same tour are given. Solo songs from the new album are noted "SotWS", and Moodies songs are noted with the album and year.

Set List:

There is a backstage clip of an Interview here, where Justin talks about future tour possibilities as well as some of the guitars used in the show.

We did have one funny experience as we were leaving the balcony area after the show. We walked out into the hallway to catch the elevator to the ground level, and ran into Mike Dawes and Julie Ragins in the hallway. They looked confused as to where they were going, turning this way and that. Mike said "I think it's over here...". As they came around the corner to the elevator, the doors closed in their faces. Julie Ragins muttered "Aww f&*$ing Hell". I said "Welcome to Wilmington". She turned and smiled, and they walked off down the hallway...

There isn't much more that I can say about the show, other than that as I write this a week or so after the fact, I am still basking in the afterglow of a fantastic concert by my favorite artist.

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