We were able to attend the show each time and the previous one was better. So I was curious to see what the South Bend Tribune would have to say. Andrew Hughes' review seemed a bit harsh to me - though I didn't disagree with all of it. As I have done in the past, I shared my thoughts with him.
I was thinking of you Thursday night - wondering what you'd have to say about the show. (It also occurred to me that being a "popular music critic" is kind of an odd job. Along those lines my headline for this show would have been "They weren't as popular as last time".)
I agree with much of what you said, though maybe not your conclusion/premise. I found the first half of the performance near tedious at times, though they finished it well. Most of the second set I rather enjoyed. I think it would have been worth mentioning that the sound level was pointlessly high. I've seen several shows at the Morris (including them last time) and I've only experienced an auditory assault approaching that once before. But Rent wasn't even quite that loud. Our ears still aren't back to normal. (And I'd love to catch up with the guy who thinks shining spotlights in the eyes of audience members somehow enhances a live music experience.)
The sound level matters particularly when listening to unfamiliar songs. It was a testimony to good equipment and musicianship that the sound was as clean as it was - but at a more reasonable volume it would have been better.
You also have to wonder if being the first show on a tour adds or detracts from the quality of the performance.
Still, everyone I sat with remarked about how tight the group was. And, as you pointed out as well, Justin's lead work was really good. I tend to forget that he's a really good guitarist. The backing musicians were quite impressive as well.
But I've never been impressed by the singing done by The Moody Blues. So the fact that John's and Justin's voices were weaker than in the past doesn't strike me as very important. They never were all that good. But I was always OK with that.
So I'd sum things up a bit differently. They were better two years ago. They were not served well technically in some ways. The applause wasn't as strong throughout the show - though they got a nice ovation at the end. Still I think most people accepted it for what it was, and weren't sorry they came.
So why should they quit?