Graeme Edge is prepared to blast, billow and burst forth . . . with the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes.
The longtime, cosmically inclined drummer for the Moody Blues will relish the chance Monday when the melodious and harmonious British group plays the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m.
The descriptive butterfly line will come during “Higher and Higher,” with Edge giving the traditional kick start to the Moodies’ soaring and spacey rock song.
“I like doing the stand-up bit as well,” Edge said earlier this week in a telephone interview from his home near Tampa Bay, Fla. “I’ve been stuck in the back for years and years and years. I can tell the guys up front the right way to do things.”
Those guys up front are John Lodge and Justin Hayward, who have spent most of their careers with Edge as Britain’s rock Blues men. All three — along with flutist Norda Mullen, drummer Gordon Marshall, and keyboardists Julie Ragins and Alan Hewitt — are on the road for the “Timeless Flight” summer tour.
“We always like to highlight one particular album on each tour, and this time we’re doing three from ‘To Our Children’s Children’s Children,’ ” Edge said, of the band’s 1969 studio collection. “We like to do a nice cross section. We present virtually every album, there might be one of two we haven’t got a song from this time.”
The big hits always show up. Edge said the Moodies will also hit “I’m Just a Singer in a Rock-and-Roll Band,” “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” and “Nights in White Satin,” among other must-plays.
The 73-year-old Edge admitted he’s a little nervous about starting the summer schedule, which begins Friday in Syracuse. Decades of experience and tour planning are expected to help.
“Sometimes, shows work right. Sometimes, they don’t,” he said.
“One thing we’ve figured out, I don’t know if anyone else ever has. If you play three songs in the same key — even if they’re totally different modes, different moods, one’s a rocker, one’s a soft love song — it gets boring. It’s amazing. So when we put the show together and we look at all the things that are obvious, like the tempo and the meaning of the songs, we’re also making sure we have different keys. Or at least we like to think so.”
The media earlier this year offered bunches of stories and broadcasts about the Beatles’ 50th anniversary. The band arrived in America during the spring of 1964, and became a pop music and cultural sensation. Edge remembers the time well.
“In May of 1964, this is how it went,” he said. “It was me, Ray Thomas, Mike Pinder, Denny Laine and John Lodge. We had a meeting, we decided we were going to form a band and head for London. John Lodge dropped out, he had another year of college still to go. He got back later on.
“On May 6th, 1964, we had our first gig. We were spotted playing in a nightclub in Birmingham. September, we were in London. October, we were in the studio recording ‘Go Now.’ And in February of ’65, ‘Go Now’ was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Our feet never touched the ground.”
Edge believes the Moody Blues’ music has a timeless quality.
“Two things,” he said. “We never followed any trend, so we never did sound like anybody else. You can’t sound like you’re dated because of all the rest of the bands from that era.
“We also had the first-ever Mellotron,” he added, of the electronic keyboard later plugged in by other groups. “So we had the availability of that orchestral spread of sound . . . which kind of went to our heads and we made things kind of sweepy and a bit large. Maybe we had good medicine.”
Good lyrics, too. Edge has some favorites, and quickly gives his opinion.
“You mean, apart from every single one I’ve written?” he asked, laughing. “Well, all of them. And I don’t think we’ve ever not played ‘Question’ in a show. I love that song, it shows the two faces of the Moody Blues.
“And it was such a joy to record. Hearing it for the first time ever to hearing it finished was like eight hours. For the Moody Blues, that’s the speed of light, because we used to stay in the studio for like three months to make an album. To hear it at three in the afternoon and have it finished by midnight was unbelievable.”
keeping it going
The Blues’ power members are all leaving middle age. Edge said advancing years mean nothing, not right now.
“We’ve talked about this,” he said. “For absolute sure, we’re going to keep going until one of us can’t make it.”
There was a time, Edge added, when he and the lads didn’t want to do anything except make music. They still have that feeling. “To still be at it now, and still look down and see two, three, four thousand people who still want to come and see us, that’s fantastic,” he said.
Fans have always liked the introspective, somewhat cosmic messages. Edge said the Blues always talked about stars, galaxies, beaches, waves for their musical connections and communications.
“It was the times, wasn’t it?” he said. “Who would have thought, when we were in our 20s, watching those guys bounce around on the moon? Who would have thought now we can’t get a man into space?
“I had a bet with a close friend — he’s still a close friend — we were both into the stars. We had a bet that if either of us had enough money later in life, the one would buy the other a ticket and we’d both go into orbit. Both of us are comfortably off — he’s actually loaded — and I’m comfortably off. And you can’t buy a bloody ticket.”