It sounds too good to be true - a videotaped Moody Blues concert from 1970, recorded at La Taverne de L'Olympia in Paris. And it is too good to be true. This nicely produced DVD gives us a rare look at the Moodies at the top of their popularity but only the vocal part of the performances is actually live. What we're left with is a not very well shot concert before a fairly unenthusiastic audience.
This is a short review, mainly because there's not much to say except my personal memories of the Moody Blues. My teen years were spent in San Bernardino, California. It was famous for both Mormons and Hell's Angels, but what we really had that was great were regular rock and roll concerts at the Swing Auditorium on the Orange Show grounds. Tickets were cheap and apparently the bands liked us as an audience (loud, enthusiastic) because they came back again and again. I saw Credence Clearwater and the Moody Blues there; the group was fantastic in person.
It was also great to see and hear the revived group again fifteen years later at the Universal Amphitheater, my last rock concert to date. But the various Moody Blues DVDs I've rented have all been fairly disappointing. They didn't age all that well and although they could play up a storm, their lyrics sometimes come off as trite and pretentious ... sometimes. But there was nothing like long ago when Justin Hayward and his band would wail into the mikes and produce their terrific weird harmonies.
An intimate concert in Paris from 1970? The Moody Blues The Lost Performance Live in Paris '70 starts off with high hopes. The color is good and the French titles well managed, even though they mis-spell some song titles and Graeme Edge's name. The video coverage isn't all that great, with camera angles only from the sides and backstage, as if the producers couldn't get permission to put even one camera in front of the band.
And then when they start to play, the main fault becomes apparent. The songs sound identical to the record versions - like, identical - right down to all those instrument overlays achieved in a multitrack recording studio. As I remember it the group simplified the arrangements enough to reproduce them in concert. The live performances I saw were just what rock and roll fans wanted to hear: They sounded different from the records, but better, more ferocious in the active songs and more personal in the solos. Justin Hayward's high voice was incredible. There's nothing alive about the performances on the DVD.
On Mike Pinder's website Pinder himself explains in a forum post that he'd forgotten that the Paris concert was conducted for TV and utilized playback tracks for all but the vocals, which are indeed live. This explains everything. Pinder says he can't remember everything and hopes that the fans will appreciate the disc for what it is. Seeing the old Moodies is so rare that the disc is easy to appreciate, but what we get isn't a real performance even though the vocals are authentic. The songs fade out unnaturally and the band members are clearly straining to keep in sync instead of letting the performance flow. This perhaps accounts for the restrained audience reaction.
The show is divided into two half-hour French TV shows. There are brief intros of the Moodies preparing. John Lodge does the song intros. The disc has an insert with liner notes by Robert Silverstein.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,