Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra
The O2 London
The first thing you notice when Jeff Lynne takes to the stage is that he doesn’t seem to have aged. At all. There’s that trademark dark mop of hair, coupled with the beard, and at first glance you think you’ve been transported back to 1988 and the days of the Travelling Wilburys.
But, 30 years since ELO last toured, could its sole constant member still cut it onstage?
The air of anticipation was obvious. They played at Hyde Park in 2014, but most fans had waited decades for this moment. As the lights dimmed, roars echoed out from the crowd. People of all ages, albeit mostly closer to Lynne’s, were very excited indeed.
Kicking off with Tightrope, Lynne and his plentiful ensemble were off, with the main man looking suitably chuffed to be there.
New songs including Alone In The Universe, When I Was A Boy and Ain’t Life A Drag were perfectly intertwined in the setlist with classics including All Over The World, Evil Woman and Living Thing raising the roof.
Telephone Line was a standout, as was the inevitable main set closer Mr. Blue Sky.
Lynne’s vocals were album standard, pitch-perfect throughout. His arrangements, harmonies and structure were testaments to his enduring musical talent.
The phenomenal staging, reminiscent of a Pink Floyd production, also deserves special mention. What Lynne provides is a spectacle. Where many artists are guilty of attempting to distract with such a tool, Lynne’s staging merely serves to accompany the performance.
Naturally, the orchestra were spot on, and the all-female string section certainly weren’t hard on the eye.
He doesn’t say much, but then again, with a songbook like his, Jeff Lynne simply doesn’t need to. Rarely has the billing for Glastonbury’s “Legends” slot felt more appropriate than this summer’s forthcoming Sunday afternoon treat.
Sending the crowd home with a quick encore of Roll Over Beethoven, the Chuck Berry classic reworked by ELO in the 70s, Lynne took a crowd selfie before departing. Just one modern-day move during what was otherwise a glorious step back in time.
Loaded’s entertainment editor Jennifer O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about popular culture as a national newspaper columnist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_OBrien1