Music DVD Review: The Moody Blues – Live at the Isle of Wight 1970

Eagle Rock | 2009 | 79 mins. | Not Rated

Formed in Birmingham, England in 1964, The Moody Blues have had a long and very successful career. The band is credited with inspiring and developing the progressive rock style of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Among their innovations was a fusion with classical music, most notably in their seminal 1967 album Days of Future Passed.

While most classic rock fans are familiar with the Moody Blues biggest hits, “Question,” “The Story in Your Eyes,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Ride My See-Saw,” “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock ‘n Roll Band),” “The Voice,” “Your Wildest Dreams” and their seductive epic “Nights in White Satin” courtesy of FM classic stations, few are familiar with the bands earlier work and the songs that filled out the albums from which those hit singles came.

Eagle Rock’s 80-minute Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 contains at least forty minutes of straight performing footage, and finally gives Moody fans a chance to hear the band play some of their well known singles, along with some lesser known works. In terms of attendance, the Isle of Wight Festival was bigger than Woodstock, held just the year before. Some of the featured artists were: Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Joni Mitchell and Ritchie Havens. When The moody Blues were asked to play the festival, “Nights in White Satin” had put the band firmly on the map.

The disc begins with members of the band discussing the first incarnation of the group in Birmingham, England. At the time, the band had different personnel and was going for a different sound. The musicians describe the evolution with the help of some film clips and then discuss the making of the Days of Future Passed album, which began as a rock ‘n’ roll version of the New World Symphony. The interviews are filled with the expected reminiscences and anecdotes, capped by Mike Pinder’s explanation of another Birmingham invention, the strange musical contraption The Mellotron, which enabled him to “sample” orchestral effects for live rock performances. A few shots of the Mellotron are included in the footage, and I couldn’t help but think it looked like something you might find in the Addams Family manse.

For the forty minutes of concert footage, this is the playlist:

1. “Gypsy”
2. “Tuesday Afternoon”
3. “Never Comes the Day”
4. “Tortoise and the Hare”
5. “Question”
6. “The Sunset”
7. “Melancholy Man”
8. “Nights in White Satin”
9.“Legend of A Mind”
10. “Ride My See Saw”

While “Nights in White Satin” and “Legend of a Mind” evoked a raucous response from the crowd of 600,000 strong, the crowd seemed strangely subdued for the rest of the set. No matter though; The Moody Blues delivered a sparkling set that shows of their musicianship and commitment to the craft.

For the most part, it looks like the concert was shot with two 16mm cameras; with few shots of the concertgoers. However, there are a few, and you’ll notice folks with their mouths agape, seemingly shocked at the sounds and rhythms the band is getting out of their instruments.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s DVD of The Moody Blues Live at the Isle of Wight Festival is handsomely produced. The well-designed disc holder contains an insert folder with liner notes by Michael Heatley. Audio comes in DTS, DD 5.1 and DD 2.0. This is a definite must-have for Moody Blues fans.

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