By Mike Weatherford
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
The Moody Blues, venerable pioneers of British symphonic rock. Hardly the guys you'd turn to for funny Vegas stories.
Unless you remember the Moodies started playing the old Caesars Palace showroom as a recurring act in 1992, and that doesn't count earlier concert stops.
The Circus Maximus was "an old-fashioned show-business experience," recalls singer Justin Hayward, from "the way the dressing rooms were laid out" to the $100 "they used to give us Moody Blues to play on the tables on the way in from the desk to the elevator."
("I would put it all on red to lose or win and walk away," he adds.)
At the Sporting House health club they would see "the look-alike of Siegfried and Roy, and also loads of Elvises."
"One day my tour manager and I went in there, and there was a basketball game between the Elvises. There was about eight of them."
These stories about the good ol' '90s don't even cover half of the group's 45-year history. Hayward, 64, says, "So many people ask the question, 'Did you ever think, in 1966 ...?'
"Well of course you don't. I was 19 when I came to the band. I gave it about two months. I didn't feel that the music we were playing suited any of us anyway.
"The Mellotron was the real turning point for us," he adds of the forerunner to the synthesizer, which mimicked strings and choral sounds. It pointed the Moodies from American blues covers to the conceptual, proto-prog rock they're still known for.
Hayward, guitarist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge keep the band alive. Off the road, their energies are more directed to archiving the past -- including a July compilation as part of Universal Music's "Icon" series -- than in recording new material.
The past few new releases have "kind of gone under the net, and we're tired of that. We want some real commitment to promotion," Hayward says. "It's a question for a band like us of what people want from you. And at the moment, we could work every night on the road. We're offered more work now than we ever were when we were young."
Today's show at the Hard Rock Hotel is tied to an instrument drive by Ear Candy Charity, collecting musical instruments for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas.
Tickets are $39.50-$150 for the 9 p.m. show at 4455 Paradise Road. Call 693-5583.
The Moody Blues