By Scott Campbell, O2 Arena
Following the phenomenal success at BBC Radio 2's "Festival In A Day" in 2014, Jeff Lynne returned to London with his exquisite back-catalogue and new album ‘Alone In The Universe’ as part of his current tour.
With The London Marathon capturing many of the headlines over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine that any other event could come close to rivalling such an occasion. However, when it comes to musical prowess, Jeff Lynne’s ELO are more than capable of delivering a show-stopping performance worthy of the elite.
An intense atmosphere loomed as the eerie orchestral opening of the 1976 fan-favourite, Tightrope, echoed around the arena; but it wasn’t long before the audience took to their feet as the song exploded into its formidable upbeat tempo. Evil Woman, Showdown and All Over the World were next on the set-list, and as you’d expect, this resulted in a mass sing-a-long with fans basking in the nostalgia of ELO’s classic repertoire.
There was never any doubt that the tracks from three decades ago wouldn’t be well received, but the latest material also proved to be equally popular. Eldorado and A New World Record segued effortlessly into Alone in the Universe; and the recent autobiographical ballad, When I Was A Boy, received a respectable reception as fans used its slower pace to recover from the energetic opening. Lynne also went on to play the latest release from his new album, Ain’t it a Drag; and although his more recent material was less familiar to the majority, it still echoed that much-loved ELO sound.
As humble as ever, Lynne didn’t waste any time in giving egoistic tales of the past, instead, he did his talking through the music. 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 the lyrics, “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 come back out for an encore that featured Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven, cementing the fact that this genre of music is still very much alive.
Although he has worked with some of the finest artists on the planet, and was a part of what many consider the greatest super-group of all-time (Travelling Wilburys), Lynne still holds originality in his musical style, laidback persona and impeccable vocal ability. 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 show truly demonstrates why Jeff Lynne remains one of the greatest musicians of our generation.