Colonial Theater, Pittsfield, MA May 15, 2014 by Eric Sutter

A wonderful evening of mellow music delighted fans of the legendary front man Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues fame. Hayward was on a solo acoustic tour in support of his latest “Spirits Of The Western Sky.” His opening gig of his tour, at the beautiful Colonial, featured a young finger-style guitarist in Great Britain’s Mike Dawes. His virtuoso guitar strumming combined Celtic and folk in a instrumental. His original song, “The Impossible,” proved an energetic fusion. His unique playing on acoustic guitar transformed Gotye’s pop song “Somebody I Used To Know.”

From the video channel of Karen Steelhammer

Next up, Justin Hayward was joined by Dawes and accompanied by keyboardist extraordinaire Julie Ragins on back-up vocals. They performed early Moody Blues hits, “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Lovely To See You,” with back-drop scenery of a soothing setting sun on water.

In impressively amazing voice, Hayward performed “In Your Blue Eyes” which inspired his latest recording. Dawes played the first of his many electric guitar solos. Ragins’ magical dream-like keyboard sound colored “The Western Sky” with a sweeping majestic call to adventure about the music that came from the West that inspired Hayward.

Familiar songs such as “I Dreamed Last Night” and “New Horizons” were well-chosen companion pieces in romantic song ballad form. The night’s music was reflective and serene with a mix of Moody Blues and new songs. “The Eastern Sun” was a beautiful and gentle love song by Hayward. The hypnotic keyboard work captured a ethereal heavenly background sound. “Your Wildest Dreams” brought an excited audience response as the lyrics added sweet memories of mid-80’s Moody Blues with soaring vocal harmonies. As the concert ended, a compilation of contrasts was heard. The wistful and bittersweet “Forever Autumn” with heartfelt acoustic guitar by Dawes was follow by Haywood’s rapid acoustic guitar prelude to “Question.”

The beloved “Nights In White Satin” became a warmly sung audience favorite. As Dawes soloed in finger picking style, the stage light background turned blue. Hayward and company encored with the hopeful pop hit of love and longing in “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” for a fountain of youth effect.

From the video channel of Maggie Clarke

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