Jeff Lynne's ELO, 2016 review: Newcastle

From NE:MM

Jeff Lynne ‘s ELO – Metro Radio Arena Newcastle – 14-4-16

There can’t be a better start to an album than ELO’s ‘Tightrope’ that begins A New World Record. And there can’t be a better way to start an Arena gig with the stage in darkness, a mesmerising lighting projection and that song being belted out live, sounding uncannily like the recorded version. It’s hairs on the back of the neck stuff and an indication of the high standard of sound, lighting and performance we can expect from tonight’s Jeff Lynne ‘s ELO gig.

Of course the concert didn’t quite BEGIN that way, there was excellent support from The Feeling to start things off and a pleasing percentage of the capacity 11.000 crowd were there early to enjoy a fine set from Dan Gillespie Sells, Richard Jones, Kevin Jeremiah, Ciaran Jeremiah and Paul Stewart (who really did excel on drums). Highlights were popular singles ‘Sewn’, ‘Never Be Lonely’ and lesser known recent songs ‘Rose’ and ‘Feel Something’, the latter starting as a tender ballad showcasing Dan’s superb voice before developing into an epic slow rocker. I’d seen The Feeling once before at Bents Park in South Shields and whilst they were good that wet and windy afternoon, they truly suited the Arena tonight and made best use of the crisp sound to showcase a very polished set of songs.

Jeff Lynne has written and arranged some amazing songs over the years and we get a rare treat about half way through the 90 minute set when for the first time on this tour ‘10538 Overture’, the band’s first ever hit single, is aired. By this time the crowd have been nicely warmed up with classics ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Rockaria!’ and ‘Livin’ Thing’ which provides the biggest audience response of the first half of the show.

A couple of songs from the recent comeback album including the excellent ‘When I Was a Boy’ are well received and there’s no hint of frustration or the crowd awaiting any particular classic song, such is the strength of the band’s new material and their extensive back catalogue.

The hits keep coming with ballad ‘Steppin’ Out’ followed by disco stomper ‘Shine A Little Love’ as if to demonstrate the versatility of Jeff Lynne ‘s songwriting and the playing of this excellent (and very large) group of musicians, including original band member and keyboard player Richard Tandy.

My own personal favourite ELO song (apart from the wonderful little know album track ‘One Summer Dream’) ‘Wild West Hero’ is happily on the set list, and then follows ‘Telephone Line’ which elicits a certain dampness in my eye as some deep buried personal memory is brought to the surface. I’m such a softy.

The gig is brought to a fantastic climax with up temp sing-a-long classics ‘Turn To Stone’, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, ‘Sweet Talkin’ Woman’ and (of course it HAD to be the closer didn’t it) ‘Mr. Blue Sky.’ It’s worth mentioning that Jeff Lynne, for all his 68 years, shares vocal duties on occasion with a backing singer taking some of the higher and longer notes. However, this does not detract at all and indeed means that we get a very close facsimile of the recorded sound of ELO in their heyday. When Jeff Lynne does take lead, as he frequently does, he sounds good and never moreso than when he manages to reel off the tricky

“Yes, I’m turnin’ to stone ‘cos you ain’t comin’ home.
Why you ain’t comin’ home if I’m turnin’ to stone?
You’ve been gone for so long and I can’t carry on,
yes, I’m turnin’, I’m turnin’, I’m turnin’ to stone.”

bit, seemingly without losing breath or making any mistake.

A short encore consisting of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ sees the night finally draw to a close. Tickets for this gig weren’t cheap and you’ll see some complaining online that they were priced out of seeing this seminal 70’s band. That genuinely is a pity but if you could afford the price of entry then I doubt you’d have left feeling short changed. For my money, it was worth every penny.


Evil Woman
All Over the World
When I Was a Boy
Livin' Thing
Ain't It a Drag
Can't Get It Out of My Head
10538 Overture
Secret Messages
Steppin' Out
Shine a Little Love
Wild West Hero
(Preceded by band Introductions)
Telephone Line
Turn to Stone
Don't Bring Me Down
Sweet Talkin' Woman
Mr. Blue Sky
Roll Over Beethoven
(Chuck Berry cover