By guest blogger Scott Campbell
The Midlands is undoubtedly an iconic region when it comes to producing quality music artists, but very few have been invited to play the recently-named “legends” slot at Glastonbury (the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world).
Following the sensational success at BBC Radio 2 "Festival In A Day" in 2014, Jeff Lynne recently returned to the stage with his exquisite back-catalogue and new album ‘Alone In The Universe’ in a tour that saw him play three dates in his home-town of Birmingham. However, back in February, the biggest honour of all for Jeff Lynne’s ELO was confirmed in an announcement from the co-founder of the Glastonbury Festival.
After months of anticipation, a gloomy looking cloud shadowed the ever-popular Pyramid stage, but as so often at Glastonbury, another treacherous down-pour wasn’t going to dampen the mood for the thousands of festival-goers. With expectations high following the fantastic performances fromDolly Parton and Lionel Richie in the previous two years, the pressure was on for Birmingham-born Lynne to deliver a show-stopping performance.
After opening the set with Evil Woman, Showdown and All Over the World were to be next on the set-list, and as you’d expect, this resulted in a mass sing-a- long with mud-ridden fans basking in the nostalgia of ELO’s classic repertoire. As flags were flying high, it was guaranteed that the tracks from three decades ago were going to be well received, but the latest material proved to be equally popular. The recent autobiographical ballad, When I Was A Boy, received a respectable reception, and fans used its slower pace to recover from the energetic opening.
It was already proving to be one of the highlights of the weekend, and with the show developing into what could only be described as a greatest-hits performance, Lynne included many more of the old classics including Livin’ Thing, Telephone Line, Turn To Stone and Sweet Talkin’ Woman. However,anticipation was soon on the rise; as the show was drawing to a close, the recognisable introduction of Mr Blue Sky lifted the excitement levels to the point of climax. This was to be the ultimate finale, and just like Mr Blue Sky, there was an ironic feeling of admiration towards Lynne as he sang thelyrics, “We're so pleased to be with you, Look around see what you do - Everybody smiles at you”.
Keeping in line with their tradition, the band did return for an encore that featured Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven, cementing the fact that this genre of music is still very much alive.
Theoretically, growing older brings with it maturity, wisdom and an appreciation of the past, but with that also comes expectation; and his ability to consistently exceed expectations is what makes Jeff Lynne the perfect act for this slot.
The Electric Light Orchestra are one of those few bands that rightfully deserve legendary status; and having experienced some fantastic highs in a career that dates back over 35 years, this performance truly demonstrated why our very own Jeff Lynne remains one of the greatest musicians of ourgeneration.