Justin Hayward

Venue: Barbican
Towns: York
Dates: 9/7/15
Website: http://www.justinhayward.com

York Barbican last night played host to the man and the voice that is Justin Hayward. This acoustic tour is a great way to learn more about the man and his music and then sit back and listen to that wonderful voice.

Justin is now 68, almost 69, but still looks years younger with his still golden flowing locks. Famous for his involvement with The Moody Blues, one of my personal all-time favourite bands, he is just as much at home as a solo artist and last night showed what a superb one he is. He held the audience in the palm of his hand, all totally spellbound.

The acoustic set was accompanied by the incomparable guitarist Mike Dawes. No, I had never heard of him before either but I have now. Search him out on YouTube. You will be as amazed as Justin claims to have been. On keyboard and backing vocals was Julie Ragins providing subtle and perfectly balanced harmonies to Justin's still silky voice. Great to go to a gig where the drummer does not drown out the singer!

Justin's almost two hour set comprised music from the early days of the Moodies with "Days of Future Passed" (1967) to his latest solo album "Spirts of The Western Skies" (2013) I admit that I have all of his albums so I am a fan! When "Days of future passed" was released in 1967 it was proclaimed as the first really progressive music album and most of this was down to Justin's inspirational writing. His imaginative music making continues to this day.

The whole set is beautifully underplayed with some lovely stories of his career making it all a very personal experience. He played a lot of tracks that even the staunchest of Moodies fans will not have heard for a long time and mixed it with his very latest compositions. He only played one song all night that he had not written, Jeff Wayne's superb "Forever Autumn" which according to Justin did nothing for one year after they had made it.

Arguably, one of the best pop singer songwriters that England has produced, Justin's self-deprecatory manner allowed him to own up to not knowing what two songs were about that he had written in the 70's. One of these was the still very melancholy but beautiful "Watching and Waiting."

Starting with "Blue Guitar" and the wonderous "Tuesday Afternoon," the set was filled with stunning musicality and compulsively listenable and catchy songs all played by three musicians at the top of their form. The set finished with, what else could it be, but "Nights in White Satin." The flute part from the original recording this time was played by Mike Dawes as a Spanish guitar solo. Magical!!!

The whole evening, including the incredible opening set by Mike Dawes, was a fantastic tribute to a supreme musician, wordsmith and craftsman. I have seen Justin now on a number of occasions but only ever with the Moodies. The solo gig allows him to express himself in a far more relaxed manner and it is so much better for that.

A truly wonderful musical evening! Thanks Justin.

Rory Stanbridge

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