Whatzup.com With a history that now spans almost 50 years, the Moody Blues are one of a handful of British Invasion bands still active and playing to full houses on a regular basis. Still touring nearly half the weeks of each year, the trio of Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge continue to forge on, providing a show as elaborately staged now as it ever has been in the past, taking care to make their performances memorable for their legions of fans. Of the remaining three, Edge is the one original member who has been there for the band’s entire tenure, and he and his longtime bandmates have decided to honor their rich history with an incredible boxed set of their music, Timeless Flight, a rich collection that reflects their long history. “We worked on it off and on for about three years,” says Edge. “We were gathering all the bits together, listening to all of the recordings and going through photographs. We wanted to make sure all of the artwork was ready, and we really wanted to keep to the limits so it truly was a ‘limited edition.’ I think the North American copies have all been sold, in fact.” The accompanying book, 120 pages long, provides a detailed history of the band through various personnel changes and musical eras. But the real stroll down memory lane came from other sources for Edge. “We did get nostalgic, especially when we listened to some of the recordings. We’d hear conversations and things between us during our sessions, and that was very nostalgic. We didn’t include those in the set, though, because a lot of the jokes were in-jokes, so they really only meant anything to us.” While some box sets are little more than glorified greatest hits packages, Edge says the Moody Blues wanted theirs to be something special. “We always try to do the very best we can, and we were trying to put our whole career into a box. We take a lot of pride in our career so we wanted it to be as good as you can make it.” One by-product of the box set was Edge’s decision to also release a book of poems, lyrics and pieces he has worked on over the years. The Written Works of Graeme Edge, available in print and audio versions, was released last summer. “That was just part and parcel of working on the box set. I don’t listen to our music normally – and I’m suspicious of anyone who actually listens to their own music, to be honest. I mean, sometimes you want to refresh your memory about some things, but listening to our music as we prepared the box set was the first time I had listened to it in a long time, and I wanted to put some of my work out there and share it. There’s no room in a set like that for individuals in the band because the focus in on the whole band, but I thought I’d share the poems along with some anecdotes about the way we were and provide some personalization for what I was writing over the years.” While there has been considerable attention paid to their older recordings in recent years, the Moody Blues also take great pride in their live show and still enjoy performing after all these years. “We love playing live,” says Edge. “We put on a big show. We’re doing stadium shows in theaters. One reason we still tour as much as we do is that we have to so we can pay for the big crew and all of the things we use for our shows. We have three screens and videos and color lights. We have a laser show, too, although not all of the theaters will let us do those. You might blind people, and they frown on that. “But it’s the sound that has really changed everything. We have earphones in our ears now so that the sound we make on the stage is actually very quiet, although the people in the front row might not agree. All of the volume is coming from the speakers now so we can really hear what we’re doing now. The sound just keeps getting better and better and better. We don’t just have one general sound mix for the whole show anymore; we can do a mix for each song. We take great pride in how our show sounds.” The show continues to attract fans of all generations, and while Edge appreciates their support, he is surprised by how rabid some fans can be. “It’s nice that people love to come to our shows, but we have some who take two weeks of holiday and then just come to all of the shows that we perform during that time. And I have to admit I don’t understand that. I mean, I love the Rolling Stones, but I don’t think I’d want to follow them and see them play over and over like that.” Edge does have great respect for the continued popularity and success of the Stones, but he also admits to having some issues with them. “I hate the Stones. I do love their shows and I love their music, but they’ve been around nine months longer than we have ,so we don’t get to be the oldest band out there. And Charlie Watts is six months older than I am, so I don’t even get to be the oldest drummer. No one cares about the second oldest.” Ah, but does Charlie Watts have a book of poetry? “I’m the only drummer who can write, apparently,” laughs Edge. In his spare time Edge loves to golf, though he says age has taken away some of his range. Still, he finds it a good distraction from the pressures of daily life. “I didn’t come to it until I was 30, and that’s when you’re starting to go downhill rather than when you’re just taking it up. But it’s good exercise, and it keeps you away from bad things like a line of cocaine or a bottle of wine. And it’s really relaxing since you have to work so hard at golf that you can’t let yourself worry about anything else.” Although the band saw flautist and vocalist Ray Thomas retire about a decade ago (and Edge admits it was hard to watch his physical decline), he hopes the Moody Blues still have some years left in them. Booked through May 2014, he says they have no plans to retire, but also knows it likely can’t last forever. “If we plan to quit, barring something catastrophic, we’ll definitely do a farewell tour. But we hope to push that off as far as possible. Maybe we can hold on until 2064, and then we can do a 100th anniversary tour.” Michele DeVinney Moody Blues 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1 Honeywell Center 275 W. Market St., Wabash Tix: $45-$125 thru box office, 260-563-1102 ________________________________________ 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2 The Lerner Theatre 410 S. Main St. , Elkhart Tix: $59.85-$99.85 thru box office, 574-293-4469 Full tour schedule!