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John Lodge of The Moody Blues talks live set ‘The Royal Affair and After’

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John Lodge in concert in 2019. John Lodge in concert in 2019. (Photo by Frank Piercy Photgraphy)

It’s clear that the legacy of The Moody Blues means as much to bassist, songwriter and vocalist John Lodge as it does to the biggest fans of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band.

“I will always be a Moody Blue,” Lodge said during a phone interview with The Maine Edge while discussing his new record “The Royal Affair and After,” packed with charged live renditions of his Moody Blues hits plus tributes to each of his bandmates.

Captured live in Las Vegas in 2019 when Lodge and his 10,000 Light Years Band were part of The Royal Affair Tour with YES, Asia, Carl Palmer and Arthur Brown, with additional songs recorded at subsequent USA tour stops, “The Royal Affair and After” represents for Lodge what he calls “the soundtrack of my life for the last 50-odd years – it’s with me everywhere.”

“The Royal Affair and After” incorporates classic Moody Blues songs penned by Lodge, including the show-stopping “Ride My See-Saw,” “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock and Roll Band,” “Gemini Dream” and “Isn’t Life Strange” along with moving musical salutes to his brothers.

Late flautist and multi-instrumentalist Ray Thomas is remembered with his song “Legend of a Mind” from 1968’s “In Search of the Lost Chord.” Friends from age 14, Lodge and Thomas formed their first band together, El Riot and the Rebels.

Lodge lost one of his closest friends last November when Moody Blues drummer and poet Graeme Edge passed away. Prior to embarking on The Royal Affair tour, Lodge filmed and recorded Edge narrating his most famous poem, “Late Lament” from the 1967 album “Days of Future Passed,” originally voiced by keyboardist Mike Pinder.

An electrifying version of Pinder’s hypnotic “Sunset” is one of this album’s highlights along with Justin Hayward’s “Nights in White Satin” (sung by Jon Davison of YES) and a rare version of Lodge’s “Saved By The Music,” pulled from “Blue Jays,” a 1975 Lodge/ Hayward collaboration recorded when The Moody Blues were on hiatus.

The influence of The Moody Blues can be detected in numerous bands past and present, including YES, Electric Light Orchestra, King Crimson, Fleet Foxes and The Verve.

Lodge is set to tour the U.S. with his band in March for the first time since 2019’s “The Royal Affair Tour.”

The Maine Edge: You love to play live. Since that hasn’t been possible because of the pandemic, did working on this record become kind of like therapy for you?

John Lodge: Yes, it was kind of like therapy. Because there were no live concerts, I thought what better is there than to have a live album? You can close your eyes and relive the concert experience or as close as you can come. I spent a year putting it together with the artwork and the 180-gram vinyl version which I think will be coming this week. It was important to me to get it exactly right, like a concert, and hopefully, everyone will relive that experience until we’re all back on the road again.

The Maine Edge: I saw this morning that the new single from the album, “Gemini Dream,” is making a big impact on the Heritage chart, congratulations on that!

John Lodge: I’m really excited about that. I wanted to include that song because it’s about getting back on the road again. The lyrics refer to one person with two identities, particularly me as a musician and me also being like everyone else who isn’t a musician. The song is about welcoming back the idea of going on the road. During rehearsals, I said to drummer Billy Ashbaugh that I wanted to increase the energy in the room, the engine room and the band. I think we accomplished that.

The Maine Edge: It’s quite moving to hear Graeme Edge delivering “Late Lament” on this record. You and Graeme were quite close, weren’t you?

John Lodge: I first saw Graeme playing drums when he was 16 years old. Four years later, we were in the same band together. Graeme had been a great supporter of my solo projects from my very first concert as a solo artist, he was there for me. I said to Graeme “You never recorded your poetry, it’s always been someone else who does it.” I said I’d really like him to go into the studio and we’ll record the poetry from “Days of Future Passed.” I said I’ll always give you the space onstage. I walk to the side of the stage, turn the lights down, invite the audience to drift downstream and just listen to Graeme narrating his poetry. I filmed it and at every concert I do, I include his beautiful poetry. I was with Graeme just shortly before he passed on. He still had that sparkle in his eyes. We had some good laughs while we shared our history together.

The Maine Edge: A number of years back, Graeme was a guest on my radio show, The Mike & Mike Show. We played a game with him that morning called “Tell us something we don’t know.” He told us he was the world’s biggest “Star Trek” fan and that there wasn’t a trivia question about the show he couldn’t answer. We tried but Graeme mopped the floor with us.

John Lodge: (laughing). He was actually able to recite dialogue from the show verbatim. He could quote everything related to it. If you started to talk to him about someone on “Star Trek,” he’d respond by quoting the character from the show.

The Maine Edge: One of my favorite albums by The Moody Blues was “Long Distance Voyager” from 1981. It’s a really important record for me that contains your beautiful song “Talking out of Turn.” Any chance we might see an expanded reissue of that album one day?

John Lodge: I don’t know about the chances of a new edition of “Long Distance Voyager,” but I am looking at adding “Talking out of Turn” to my stage show. I may do a version of that song with the complete orchestration. That’s something for the future that I’m talking about now with Alan Hewitt, my keyboardist and musical director.

The Maine Edge: You’re set to bring your 10,000 Light Years Band back to America in March for a tour to start here in New England. How much do you look forward to these shows?

John Lodge: Two weeks ago, I booked a rehearsal hall, got the band together, the stage, the lights, sound system, had a few friends around and we performed a concert. It was so exciting to get back on the road in this strange sort of way without an audience, but it was so great to just be who I am, you know? I’ve been playing concerts since I was 14 and this upcoming tour is one that I am really looking forward to.

Last modified on Wednesday, 26 January 2022 09:02

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