An Evening with the Moody Blues
Lovely to see you
Words inexplicably fail me as I attempt to describe what the Moody Blues have meant to me since I first heard “On the Threshold of a Dream” in 1969. This classic rock band has unknowingly provided the soundtrack to my life’s drama, and their music fills my head, even as I type these words. I have seen them in concert over a dozen times in the last thirty years. They have always offered a performance that lifts me up a tiny bit higher than I was before.
March 3rd, 2007 was the last time I saw the Moody Blues perform live in concert. My sister, her husband, my brother and I traveled to the Ameristar Casino in north Kansas City, Missouri on a warm spring day for dinner and the concert. This was the latest in decades of attending performances by the Moody Blues, and we looked forward to it for weeks.
Images from a band
I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band
My sister made several calls to the casino that day in hopes of delivering a message to the Moody Blues. She wanted to explain to them that my brother was suffering from pancreatic cancer and did not have much time left. She wondered if the band might be willing to acknowledge him onstage in some way. Ameristar promised to try and help, and seemed genuinely interested in the gesture. It was a long shot, but if it worked out she believed it would do wonders for him. He loved the Moody Blues and their music almost as much as I did, and something personal from them would have been a gift from God.
When we arrived at the casino in Kansas City, our first order of business was dinner. We ate at Bugatti’s, an Italian restaurant highly recommended and with good reason—the food was wonderful and the service outstanding. My sister ordered a lobster tail and I couldn’t resist the “wood-fired seafood bake”. This consisted of lobster, scallops, shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels with pasta in a saffron scented broth, cooked in an individual copper skillet. This medley appealed to my love of seafood, and the magnificent aroma that bombarded my senses when the meal arrived told me I had chosen wisely. My brother was tempted by the lamb but settled on Veal Marsala.
My brother enjoyed his food, but his medication upset his stomach and he didn’t eat much of it. He regretted ordering such an expensive meal only to pick at it, so I ate a bit of it myself. I wasn’t sure if it made him feel better, but I thought it might keep him from feeling as if he wasted his money. He was always squeamish about eating off another’s plate, so I repeated a refrain used at our mother’s house and assured him that spending time with small children desensitized me toward eating from someone else’s plate, or having somebody eat from my own—it happened all the time.
We had a small block of time after the meal and gambled a bit. I sat next to my brother at a video poker machine and leisurely fed quarters into it. I kept an eye on him to ensure his judgment wasn’t impaired by medication or fatigue, but he did fine without my help. Neither of us won, but it felt good to make a few small bets. All too soon our time was up, and we slowly made our way to the concert hall where the Moody Blues were to take the stage. Our tickets were good—about four rows back and off to the side. Access was easy.
Shortly after the Moody Blues appeared, we noticed a block of empty seats in the front row. After a few moments we decided they were unclaimed and asked the security staff if we could move up front. As middle-aged people (with one of us leaning on a cane), we hardly had the appearance of troublemakers and the security guard nodded in the affirmative. We gathered our belongings and hurried towards the chairs in front, scant feet from John Lodge with Justin Hayward standing at center stage. To his right was Norda Mullen, the pretty American woman who replaced Ray Thomas when he retired. Toward the back of the stage sat Graeme Edge at his drum kit. We allowed my brother to sit closest to the center of the stage. I sat next to him, my sister was beside me, and her husband sat on the outside.
I was thrilled my brother could experience this, and I was totally into the music. I’m normally a pretty quiet member of the audience and limit myself to polite applause, but I was almost as caught up in the moment as the screaming teenagers that attended Beatles concerts must have been, forty years earlier. “Nights in White Satin,” “Question,” The Story in Your Eyes,” “Isn’t Life Strange,” “Lean on Me” and “December Snow” were among the many great tunes performed that evening, and I cheered loudly before and after each song. My brother believed they heard me and responded with surprised looks or faint smiles a couple times. He braced himself on my arm for support when he wished to stand and cheer for the band as they played his favorite songs. I don’t know how long they were on stage, but I enjoyed our front row seats and responded to their music with unbridled enthusiasm.
We shifted further to the center of the stage for their encore, and Justin Hayward and John Lodge were right in front of us as they sang “Ride My See-Saw”. My sister held out a CD and pen in hopes they might sign it after they finished their act, but they did not. This wasn’t a surprise; in all the Moody Blues concerts we attended over the decades, we never saw them interact with the audience in that way—but one can always hope. With regret we noted they did not acknowledge my brother, either. Seeing someone in his condition on the front row, we thought they might have said something to him or shook his hand if they got the message. We concluded they did not. That would have made for an amazing moment, but the evening was good enough anyway. We all had a marvelous time.
A wonderful day for passing my way
My sister was somewhat disappointed in her inability to communicate with the Moody Blues, but she need not have been concerned. My brother described our activities as the “perfect day.” He measured his time left on Earth in months, and knowing the pain he endured just from moving about, well—if he said the day was perfect, it was. My brother is gone now, and the Moody Blues have not passed our way since. Their beautiful words and music offered a night of peace and happiness for my brother, almost for the final time. "December Snow" was played at my brother's funeral.
“A wonderful day for passing my way; knock on my door and even the score with your eyes…
“Lovely to see you again, my friend; walk along with me to the next bend…” --Justin Hayward for the Moody Blues
Together we'll stand on the threshold of a dream
An Evening With the Moody Blues
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