Another ‘legend’ graced the stage of The Anvil on March 21st. This time it was
Justin Hayward, the voice of the Moody Blues from 1966 till the band dissolved in 2018. What a show he gave us!

The audience were a cheerful bunch. We had struggled to sort out the car park charges (it’s a flat fee at this time of day – really – where does it say that?). We wondered where our seats were (is this Row C ?) and we struggled to let people through once we had sat down (mobility issues). I looked down from Row D in the circle of an almost full house, on to a sea of silver hair and balding heads. We were all devoted fans from way back. Justin Hayward is 77 (he really is – Google it) and we were mostly of the same vintage.

The show started at 7.30pm and we were treated to a half hour of exquisite acoustic guitar playing by a younger man called Mike Dawes. He has been playing with Justin Hayward for 11 years and has the deserved reputation of being one of the finest acoustic players in the world. He settled us all with some friendly banter addressing us as ‘people of Basingstoke’. He gave us interesting explanations of his technique in making full use of 10 fingers, two hands and one guitar. It was  remarkable how such a gifted individual could park his ego, and melt into the background so effortlessly when he adjusted to supporting the ‘feature attraction’ after the interval.

So, on came Justin Hayward and off we went with a fabulous rendition of his lovely Tuesday Afternoon. Everyone was very happy. We were introduced to what he affectionately called ‘my little gang’. And what a gang they proved to be. Julie Ragins on keyboards who added vocals at all the right times, Karmen Gould a wonderful flutist and harmonica player and the fabulous Mike Dawes. The songs flowed. We were treated to a series of rambling anecdotes in between songs and a stirring version of Voices in the Sky.

He told us of how he loved to practice. He made use of a room in the presbytery of a church near his home and practiced there for a few hours on a couple of days each week. The story was wandering around a bit with references to Monks and Nuns until he came to the bit when one day he felt ‘a presence’ in the room. I was expecting to hear that Jesus had appeared, but it turned out to be just a chap who wondered where the kitchen was? On being politely guided by Justin, he left the room muttering a rude and disparaging remark about the music he had heard. Jesus would not have done that!