Aaahhh the heavenly Justin Hayward…. I will never forget the first time I heard this ‘voice’ beaming through the radio like an invisible force field. Being an 80’s kid, it was after the release of ‘Your Wildest Dreams’ and it was like nothing I had ever heard before. What is that??? Absolutely mesmerising. I was besotted and drawn in so deeply, I remember getting my TDK cassette tape ready on ‘record/pause’ to try and get a quick copy the next time the song came on. That is until my pocket money came through to go out and get that 45! From here on in, it was the path of discovering many other Moody Blues treasures and songs featuring Hayward’s vocals like the War of the Worlds ‘Forever Autumn’ etc. Luckily, my older middle sister had tunes from both floating around, so I just scrounged together what I could, which is all you can do at that age really.. Thanks sis!
To have ‘An Intimate Evening with Justin Hayward’ at the State Theatre in Sydney last night was really just another dream come true. Having been blown away by the amazing ‘The Moody Blues’ only a few years ago at the same venue, I couldn’t believe we were getting Hayward all to ourselves for a couple of hours. How deliciously selfish.. My heart actually skipped a beat when I first saw the press release as I knew this was going to be something else; one of my favourite male vocalists of all time, stripped back and organic. It was such a rare and special occurrence and after having some wonderful support with the super talented guitarist Mike Dawes to limber up the crowd, finally it was time for Justin to grace the stage. Dawes joins Hayward, as does the lovely Julie on keyboards and vocals on this tour, but when Justin appears, it’s just sublime. Such poise and presence, Hayward radiates some type of luminosity on stage, and then that voice, gosh, so hard to not float in an instant. The beautiful State Theatre acoustics are perfect for such an instrument that when our evening’s delights begin with the glorious ‘Out And In’, I was already being transported. Just absorb and enjoy. One of my favourites ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ was next and I realise I let out a sigh, one of many during the night. The packed venue was in awe, I can see the deep focus and smiles as memories, no doubt, begin to overtake many minds while they lap up these luscious tunes.
Every song was just ethereal. I loved ‘This Morning’, it was stunning, and then ‘Lovely To See You’, ‘Watching And Waiting’ and ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ mixing in with Hayward’s newish solo album tracks ‘In Your Blue Eyes’, ‘The Western Sky’ and ‘One Day, Someday’. Such a great collection of songs to showcase these otherworldly vocals and guitars. Romance and despair, imagination versus reality. A multitude of emotions intertwined . This is pure bliss, and to say we’re all elated at this stage, is an understatement. This is one of the best therapy sessions the world can ever offer and I’m already so preoccupied that I don’t even realise we are only two thirds through the set list, with more to come. I briefly forget what else I’m waiting for and not knowing what would come next but that changed the minute I heard Hayward chat about getting a phone call and being asked, “Hey are you the guy that sings ‘Nights In White Satin?”’ I just knew it was a peak moment for me.
Jeff Wayne’s ‘Forever Autumn’ has to be one of the most deeply cutting songs ever written, with War Of The Worlds being so exceptionally creative and disturbing. To hear Hayward’s version sung live was just phenomenal. I could feel my eyes welling up at this stage, so difficult to not be affected. The stars collided for this collaboration as they did when Hayward merged with ‘the Moodies’. Waiting for something so profound to come to life was such a privilege. I can die happy now.
To think that Hayward just turned 71 and can still sing like this is ridiculous but thank the musical gods that we have this music still touring the world and giving us so much pleasure. Such a gift Hayward was given that’s returned so much to others for over 50 years. By this stage of the night, it could be any number of songs making an appearance. We were then treated to ‘Never Comes The Day’ which moved into my first love ‘Your Wildest Dreams’… Oh the flashbacks of youth – atmospheric and marvellously romantic.. “Once upon a time, once when you were mine..”…. I’m melting… Sing to me Justin. Yes to me!! You can feel the hearts just bursting even more across the room. Ladies wanting Hayward to serenade them, gentlemen either wishing they could serenade like this or be serenaded to. The fairy tale of songs, total enchantment. Our daydream then alters to the brilliant ‘Question’ which gets some hardcore fans shaking their stuff at the front of the stage. Such a relevant song, written so long ago but so poignant for this day and age. Those furious guitars enveloping an important message as we are still not getting that damn answer…
So what else has Hayward got left in his kitty? Oh, just the intensely passionate ‘Nights In White Satin’ stirring the theatre, the gut wrenching ‘Cause I love you… Yes I love you.. Whaooo I love yoooouuu….’, the epitome of love and lust, haunting all lovers across past generations; and probably the Moody Blues most well known song. This finished our main course until it was dessert time. I wasn’t sure what our encore would be but when I heard the familiar start, I was more than pleased. Another idyllic childhood song memory for me, the dreamy ‘I Know You’re Out There Somewhere’. I’m a sucker for great love songs but real ones where the singers actually know what they are singing about and you can really feel it. Add to that one of the best voices ever, talented musicians, wonderful arrangements and voila! This is love song utopia for me, pour the syrup. Looking around at all the swaying heads and bodies, it’s fair to say that everyone has had a spectacular evening as they relish these last bars and give Hayward a standing ovation. Swoon.
This magical world of Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues is in a realm all its own… Please take me back in. It’s just a wondrous event when you get a chance to revel in all this live. And it’s no surprise they are still touring, together and separately, as the fans can’t get enough. Hayward is like the Godiva of chocolates; velvety and rich, layered, deep and never letting you down. He’s always there to bring you out of whatever head space you don’t want to be in, and put you in the head space you do want to be in. The weaving of these beautifully composed songs with his voice is surely one of the most satisfying musical affairs of our lifetime and I can’t wait to be there to devour it all the next chance I get.
© MARINA KNEZEVIC 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
NOTE: The Moody Blues have been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. To lodge your votes, and you can vote daily too, please follow the below HERE. (Long overdue!)