April 6, 2009
Moody Blues at Fred Kavli Theatre—Thousand Oaks Civic Arts, Thousand Oaks California. Scheduled to go on at 8:00p.m.
We arrived approximately 6:30 p.m. and went around to the back of the building where a very large, silver tour bus was parked. We saw a few guys walk in a back door, at sort of a loading dock. I noticed how their badges were and lowered mine so it would be at the same length as theirs. (Yes, we had our own badges, for our group’s magazine, a great idea from Maitreya.)
We went through the door and were literally in the back of the stage. I set my camera on video and attempted to document our travels (more on that later). We maneuvered around large speakers and other sound equipment. Around the curtain, I saw the roadies doing a sound check, someone was playing on the drums but it obviously wasn’t the Moody Blues. We went past the curtains and through another door and then we were in a hallway. Some other stage people walked by and nodded at us and said hello. Our badges were legit and we fit right in. We went to the catering room and everyone kind of glanced at us but didn’t say anything. They looked like stagehands and staff people, eating from a buffet, but no band members were there, so we kept going. There were several rooms that said “Dressing Room,” with a Moody Blues flyer, with doors marked from A to E. I zoomed in with the video on all the signs that said Moody Blues, and Keep Out, and things like that. Shanti knocked on a door and a woman said “Come in,” so we popped our heads in.
Shanti announced “We’re here from Clear Light magazine and wanted a few minutes to interview the guys.” The young blonde woman was very friendly and immediately said okay and started out the door to walk with us. She said Graeme Edge might be hard to find because he had family visiting, but that she believed John Lodge and Justin Hayward were upstairs. She led us to the elevator and we rode up with her and talked about Graeme having family in town. We referred to the band members by their first names, like “Yes, we were hoping to at least talk to John, and Justin would be great too.” She then led us right to their dressing room and we followed her in. I’m thinking, “Cool! Mission accomplished.” There were maybe fifteen other people in the room. She walked up to John Lodge who was sitting in a chair, talking to someone.
At that point, everything else stopped and our new friend was the only one speaking, introducing us as reporters from The Clear Light. There was stunned silence around us for a few seconds, jaws literally dropped; John Lodge looked astonished with his mouth hanging open. The Moody Blues were just a few feet away, maybe ten feet at the most. Justin Hayward was to our right, John was in the chair to the left, and Graeme was behind him a few feet. Although we weren’t there long, I noticed they all seemed somewhat funky and scraggly and beyond-middle-aged looking. I started to move my camera up to my eyes and suddenly two or three male voices almost shouted “No! No cameras!” (perhaps because of how they looked; perhaps so it wouldn’t appear on YouTube, but isn’t any publicity good publicity?). Then one large bald guy started talking, as he moved in between Shanti and the woman who was still introducing us, and said (in what sounded like a German or Russian accent) “No! Why are you here? You’re not scheduled to be here.” Shanti answered that we just wanted a few minutes to interview the band but he said “Come out here, come with me and we’ll talk about it.”
We followed him out, and once out of earshot of the others, he became more and more hostile, saying “How did you get in here? Those aren’t the right badges, I don’t know what those are, but you’re not supposed to be here. You can’t be here.” He led us outside and by then there were a few security people (an older Indian guy stood by, he looked like he might be head of security but he didn’t seem very concerned). The Indian gentleman said a few times, “They must have come in the front entrance,” and I didn’t correct him because I figured he’d get in trouble, since we had just walked right in the back entrance with no security around.
Shanti stayed friendly in the face of hostility. She asked “Who are you?” in a nice way and he said “I’m their manager,” and she said “Oh! What’s your name?” still very friendly. He said “Udo,” while she put out her hand and he automatically put his out. They shook hands while she said “Nice to meet you,” which of course was quite humorous, as he was making it obvious that he was not at all pleased to meet us. He asked why we were here and I piped up that we had talked to the booking agent who had said we could talk to the guys, but he just repeated “No, you can’t be here.” Shanti persisted that she wanted to at least give a photograph to the guys (of Maitreya, our spiritual teacher). Udo just repeated that we had to leave. We were then interrupted by a couple with a young child who came over. They reported who they were and Udo suddenly changed his whole tone and spoke kindly to them and let them in the door. Then he turned to us, clearly back to his hostile manner. Shanti asked him to at least give the photograph to the band and he said okay, but we had to leave. For some reason he asked if we wanted it back (maybe because it was in a mailing envelope) and she said no, just give it to them, and Udo went back in.
We walked just a few feet away to make a phone call. While still on the phone, Udo and the Indian guy came out again and Udo said “Maybe I don’t speak very good English but I think I was clear that you had to leave this area, you can’t be here.” I said “Okay, okay, it’s just us, we weren’t planning on staying here, she’s just making a phone call,” as he repeated that we had to leave the back stage area and no one was allowed there. I said “I know you’re just doing your job but we don’t mean to bother anyone” and he retorted “Well, you’re bothering me.” We started to walk away and Shanti turned back and called out, “Did you give the photo to them?” and Udo said “Yes, they don’t know who it is,” and she said “That’s okay, they will.”
We then talked briefly with a young stage guy who was hanging out and I asked if he’d take my camera and get a photo. He said he’s not allowed and he would get fired, that everyone who works at the concert hall sign agreements that they wouldn’t do anything like celebrity-chasing with any band members. I said we were reporters, not celebrity chasers but that had little impact.
After Udo and the other guy went back in, there was a Mexican guy guarding the door. I went up to him and said I know I can’t go in, but could someone else take my camera and get a photo and bring it back. He actually said he’d try, but he just buzzed an intercom at the door and never got anyone.
We figured we weren’t going to get any further, and got back in the car for the two-hour drive back home. Once back, I realized I had not turned the video completely on. There was nothing recorded.
It was upsetting to be treated like dirt by Udo, and it bothered me that none of the Moody Blues (all of whom were in the room) told Udo to back off, or volunteered to just talk to us a few minutes. Even if they were surprised, they could have acted like human beings. There was a ridiculous air of that elitist celebrity caste system where common folk are forbidden to be in the same area as the oh-so-high-and-holy musicians. They’re just musicians! And they’re not exactly at their peak of their career. The arena only held 1,800 at the most, and it was not sold-out. (And the attendees walking in were all in the over fifty-age group, one older woman looked like she was about eighty years old.) Would it have really harmed anyone to act like decent people and talk to us a few minutes and treat us with respect? We were obviously harmless and there was no reason to play the power trip game. Is this the true nature of the Moody Blue members, as people? Who are they, really? Besides being in this band, what kind of people are they? I will never really know, all I can do is judge by their actions that it appears that they have thoroughly bought into the elitist celebrity mindset.
And I don’t even have the video to prove I was there! I can’t say all I have is fond memories, either. By the end of the night, I was definitely moody, I was definitely blue, and I have less respect for the Moody Blues as people. Their music is still incredible, but I hope I have some reason to respect them as human beings again in the future.