In theory, Wednesday's Moody Blues concert with the Prince William Symphony Orchestra at Nissan Pavilion was only a mildly attractive proposition. After all, the Moodies have been pushing their turgid tunes since the mid-'60s, and PW County is not often mentioned as a wellspring of great music. But it quickly became clear why the English rockers have been appearing with local orchestras: The show was a refreshing change from insipid amphitheater rock, and the orchestral flourishes were often more than a gimmick.
Guitarist Justin Hayward led the ensemble through two hour-long sets that suffered from uneven pacing but had dynamic moments. New tunes like "Haunted" and "Words You Say" benefited from symphony coloring, while "Strange Times" meandered and drummer Graeme Edge's Willy Wonka-esque recitation during "Nothing Changes" sank.
Bassist John Lodge and flutist-singer Ray Thomas were joined by several other rockers (sounding as though they got lost on their way to a Chicago gig) and offered classics the crowd came to hear: "Tuesday Afternoon," "Ride My See-Saw," "The Story in Your Eyes," "Isn't Life Strange" and everyone's favorite overblown classical rocker, "Nights in White Satin."
Classical cognoscenti sniff at such crossbreeding, but when all the participants sawed at full strength, as during "I'm Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band)," the sonorous swirl pushed bombastic tendencies aside and, yes, rocked.