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POP MUSIC REVIEWS

Moody Blues Try Seizing Days Long Passed

May 27, 1996|STEVE HOCHMAN

The latest news about the Moody Blues--the only real news about the British band these days--is that it officially changed its famed late-'60s stoned-surrealism line "Timothy Leary's dead" to "Timothy Leary lives," in deference to the fact that the counterculture guru is actually dying. But when the Moodies came to that lyric during "Legend of a Mind" at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday, Ray Thomas sang the old version.

Perhaps that was for the best: The new lyric is about today. The concert was not. Drummer Graeme Edge set the show's tone right off the bat when, backed by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, he solemnly delivered his spoken segment from the band's 1967 "Days of Future Passed," pausing knowingly at the line, "Senior citizens wish they were young."

While the fortysomethings dominating the enthusiastic audience are hardly seniors, this was a time trip no different than their parents' seeing Harry James 30 years ago. Even many of the '80s and '90s songs the Moodies played Saturday deal with a search for lost youth rather than the mystical lost chord. It's days of past passed.

And if core members Thomas, Edge, bassist John Lodge and guitarist-singer Justin Hayward were a bit mechanical at times, leaving much of the musical load to supplemental band members and the orchestra (conducted by Moodies regular Larry Baird), the old hits were delivered with aplomb.

Still, there's no denying that culturally speaking, these nostalgia merchants are--like Leary in the song--on the outside, looking in.

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