Jeff Lynne's ELO, June 2016 review: Manchester

From: Manchester Evening News

Review: ELO, Manchester Arena, Wednesday June 22
Chris Slater takes time out from his busy schedule to appreciate a pop juggernaut – Jeff Lynne's ELO

In musical terms, to me, ELO are like an iconic building in your home town.

I must have walked past all of Manchester's key landmarks such as the town hall, hundreds of times. But having lived with them for so long you almost take them for granted.

However tonight was one of those moments where you stop for a moment, look up and say 'actually, that's pretty damn beautiful isn't it?'

It may be more than a decade and a half since Jeff Lynne and his multi-faceted project, the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) have properly toured, but the clamour to see them is no less than it was in the heady days of the seventies.

Proof, if any more were needed, that the influence of this singer, songwriter, producer, arranger, and guitarist among many other things, still endures. Just ask The Flaming Lips' or Daft Punk who made them want to get into music.

This extra show was added after tickets for his first Manchester date, back in April, sold out in a matter of minutes and those for tonight's were changing hands at exorbitant rates outside.

And the capacity crowd inside this Arena were again treated to a euphoric sweep through his enchanting and underrated back catalogue.

Evil Woman gets the party started and the more soulful Showdown is an unexpected early highlight.

Other than a declaration that 'it's good to be back so soon', there is very little banter or chat between songs, though that has never been Lynne's style. And both lyrically and musically, there is no doubt the 68 year-old Brummie is in sparkling form.

The sound is almost flawless, especially given the complexity of the arrangements and the size of this cavernous arena. You could argue it is at times a little too polished. Close you eyes and you could well be listening to the band's remastered greatest hits, and for some that is not what they are looking for in a live performance. But you'd be harsh to pick holes in tonight's effort.

There are no spaceships landing on the stage but his more cosmic tracks such as Turn to Stone are more than done justice with an impressive, if understated, light and screen show.

There are some new songs thrown in, such as the Beatles-esque When I Was A Boy from last year's record Alone In the Universe.

The nod to the Fab Four understandable given his association with the band namely, playing with George Harrison in the super group The Travelling Wilburys.

It has lost none of its charm but Don't Bring Me Down, with is thundering bass line, is one of the few songs on show tonight that sounds a tad dated.

The same cannot be said however of Mr. Blue Sky. Classic is an overused word but this breezy and uplifting five minutes and six seconds has to be one of the best piece's of pop music this country has ever produced.

He needn't have played another note, but a rocky version of Chuck Berry song, and early ELO hit, Roll Over Beethoven brings the curtain down and leaves everyone in no doubt of Lynne's prominent place on the musical landscape.


Introduction Theme
Evil Woman
All Over the World
When I Was a Boy
Livin' Thing
Strange Magic
10538 Overture
Secret Messages
When the Night Comes
Shine a Little Love
Wild West Hero
Telephone Line
Turn to Stone
Don't Bring Me Down
Sweet Talkin' Woman
Mr. Blue Sky
Roll Over Beethoven
(Chuck Berry cover)