Music review: Justin Hayward, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

Justin Hayward
Justin Hayward
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His music may embody an earnest strand of English country garden whimsy but Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward doesn’t take himself too seriously, wheeling out a cardboard cutout of himself in his psychedelic dandy finery in roundabout justification of a setlist mainly comprised of songs penned in the late 60s and early 70s.

Justin Hayward, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh ***

There was no need to make excuses to this audience. As uncomfortable or unsatisfying as it may be for Hayward to perpetually hark back to days of future past, he and his young band - guitarist Mike Dawes, flautist Carmen Gould and keyboard player Julie Ragins - delivered exactly what everyone wanted to hear.

As his token 21st century offering, The Western Sky, demonstrated, Hayward has always been a strong stylist, never straying far from his unapologetically hippy-dippy roots to delve into a time capsule of trilling flute, symphonic synthesizer and twelve-string strumming with prog rock tempo and time signature changes and a lyrical undercurrent of sci-fi dystopia.

Little wonder that Jeff Wayne came calling in the mid-70s with a song he had written for his proposed musical version of War of the Worlds. The pastoral melancholy of Forever Autumn was a sweet dispatch from another time, just as the headlong dash and overblown sentiment of Question and baroque pop pomp of Nights in White Satin were simultaneously anachronistic yet ageless as emotional pop epics. Fiona Shepherd