January 23, 2023

Photos: The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward looks to new horizons in downtown Clearwater

Justin Hayward plays Bilheimer Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, Florida on Jan. 22, 2023.
Photo by Josh Bradley
Justin Hayward plays Bilheimer Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, Florida on Jan. 22, 2023.
It’s still a bummer that a good chunk of the Moody Blues’ key members have either retired or passed away. But Justin Hayward—who replaced Denny Laine in 1966—isn’t ready to give up on his old band’s hits. And no one could blame him, especially considering how he packed the hell out of the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre last Sunday night.

The 76-year-old singer and guitarist of the band behind “New Horizons” sounded eerily similar to how he did all those years ago, and had all kinds of stories to tell across all parts of his life. He warned fans to avoid his hometown of Swindon, England at all costs, told a story about a time when composer Jeff Wayne reached out to him, asking if he could record “Forever Autumn” for his “Musical Version of The War of the Worlds,” and even touched on a few tracks from Days of Future Passed (“Tuesday Afternoon,” “Nights in White Satin,”) which fellow Moody Blue John Lodge seldom does at his own gigs.

Supporting Hayward was a three-piece acoustic band without a drumhead in sight. There was no percussionist at all, but flutist Karmen Gould was up there playing Ray Thomas’ parts. Also in the band was keyboardist and backing vocalist Julie Ragins, who Hayward described as an honorary member of the Moody Blues for over 30 years.

And Mike Dawes, who touched on literally every nook and cranny of his acoustic guitar during an opening set—even doing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” on it, while making his guitar sound like a 12-string thanks to pedals—gave a unique nuance to Hayward’s band that you would probably never see at a latter day Moody Blues gig.

See our photos below.
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Photos: The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward looks to new horizons in downtown Clearwater
Photos: The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward looks to new horizons in downtown Clearwater
Photos: The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward looks to new horizons in downtown Clearwater
Photos: The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward looks to new horizons in downtown Clearwater

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