NIAGARA FALLS — The Moody Blues may be known colloquially throughout the land as a mystic branch of progressive rock. But Saturday night it regressed through time for the first third of its 90-minute set in Seneca Events Center.
Beginning with a double shot of singles ( “Gemini Dream” and “The Voice”) from 1981’s “Long Distance Voyager,” the band worked backwards from there to “Peak Hour” from 1967’s symphonic “Days of Future Passed.”
In fact, the English band’s 32-city spring tour— “The Moody Blues: The Voyage Continues — Highway 45,” which concluded Saturday — was dubbed a celebration of the latter album’s 45th anniversary.
The story goes that they saw an old 45 pressing of “Days” while reviewing promotional material for this tour and made the connection to the 45th anniversary of their breakout album’s release. It was a good peg for the tour with no new material to speak of.
Sandwiched between those songs, however, were 1978’s “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone,” “You and Me” from 1972 and 1968’s “Tuesday Afternoon.” It was a “musical journey” (as original drummer Graeme Edge would later say of those halcyon days) that began with late 1970s synthesizers and rested comfortably on a bed of harmonies from the Summer of Love.
Did longtime guitarist Justin Hayward, bassist John Lodge and Edge change with the times? Or did the times change with them and other similarly inclined artists such as King Crimson and Jethro Tull? Does it matter?
Their material from nigh-on-five decades stands on its own as a reflection of the period it was written. Yet, songs such as 1971’s “The Story in Your Eyes,” which marked the midway point of the set, have such a timeless rock quality that they continuously brought the capacity crowd of Baby Boomers to their feet.
After that, the set list bounced around from the Moodies’ mid-1980s megahit “Your Wildest Dreams” to a grand, sprawling cascade of sound called “Isn’t Life Strange,” which featured Lodge on a double-neck bass/guitar, purple stage lights, psychedelic projections, a fog machine in overdrive and an interjection by flutist Norda Mullen.