Moody Blues singer Justin Hayward took to the road in 2013 to support his solo album, Spirits Of The Western Sky, his first since 1996. Backed by Alan Hewitt and Julie Ragins, both on keyboards and backing vocals, as well as Mike Dawes on guitar, the tour mixed new material with several Moody Blues classics. A show in Atlanta, GA, was recorded, making up the new live album Justin Hayward -- Spirits...Live.
The show opens with a trio of Moody Blues songs, the first being "Tuesday Afternoon." Hayward is in strong voice here, and throughout, his voice remarkably unchanged over the years. The song is every bit the richly orchestrated pop gem it was all those years ago. The next two tracks, "Lovely To See You" and "It's Up To You," are done in medley form. The band offers bouncy renditions of both, with fine background vocals throughout.
"In Your Blue Eyes" and "The Western Sky," both new songs, follow. The former is an optimistic, pretty track, while the latter is a laid back acoustic ballad. Neither feels out of place in the show and the crowd is receptive to both. Hayward even manages to make an old song feel new with his reworking of the 1983 track "It's Cold Outside Of Your Heart." Now a country-tinged number, Hayward delivers a killer vocal on the track.
Still, it's the older songs that get the best response. Hayward's rapid-fire picking during the intro to "Question" gets perhaps the biggest roar of approval from the audience while his vocal on the classic ballad, "Nights In White Satin," rivals the original. The show closes with the latter-day Moody Blues hit, "I Know You're Out There Somewhere." Hayward's falsetto is in excellent shape on this upbeat ending number.
After nearly five decades, Hayward still has it. It helps to have a killer back catalog of songs to pick from, but the new material holds up as well. Justin Hayward -- Spirits...Live is an excellent listen for Hayward and Moody Blues fans.