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Review-Jeff-Lynnes-ELO-Live-in-Hyde-Park-2015

JEFF LYNNE'S ELO

LIVE IN HYDE PARK

SHOCK ENTERTAINMENT | Release Date: September 11 2015

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If ever there was an award for a rock band that just listening to their music made you feel good instantly then the crown would surely have stiff competition from ELO, a band that had a remarkable career throughout the seventies and eighties guided by Jeff Lynne before a brief rekindling in 2001. And they sold in enormous amounts - accounting for 20 Top 20 UK singles and 15 in the US. They were HUGE. ‘Live in Hyde Park’ inexplicably is the first time they have been on a Festival stage in almost 30 years, and boy is it a welcome return.


After opening song ‘All over the World’ Jeff addresses the crowd telling them he hasn’t done this for so long and he’s overwhelmed and you can genuinely tell he is even behind the ever-present shades.


‘Evil Woman’ is one of those perfectly composed songs that really set ELO aside from everyone else out there: essentially simple but over orchestrated to the point it surpassed ordinary notions of bells and whistles and became a complex and dense  piece of pop-art where creating songs on stage with a 30plus piece orchestras didn’t seem excessive. The best aspect of this show is that of course even though you could recreate ELO with one man and a bank of samples and computers Lynne has to do it all live with a full toy-b0x full of musicians.


To be honest back in the day I saw ELO as a pop band, one of my mum and dad to enjoy while the serious stuff like Zep and Co were left to us younger crowd. But time as they say changes everything and whilst some of the songs seem rather perfunctory they are capable of rocking out like on ‘M-Me-Ma Bell’; ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ and set closer ‘Roll Over Beethoven’. Sure it’s not as earth-shaking as a songs like ‘Kashmir’ but to even contemplate that as I used to do is to miss the point entirely – ELO always wanted to be smooth and soothing and to create the perfect pop song, not shatter the world of ‘Rock’ and who could argue that they don’t achieve that in spades on songs like ‘Raining All Over the World’ a song that is smoot as silk yet still soulful and oddly melancholy. May e these were just the sort of songs lost on snotty-nosed kids? I’m just so glad that as you age you get to relook at thangs.


There are so many highlights here it’s hard to pick just a few, but   ‘Living Thing’ is the sort of song people should be forced to listen to just to understand the art of composition and a re-acquaintance with ‘Strange Magic’ makes you marvel at the beauty of a ballad with far more depth than you ever remember. Then listen to ‘Sweet Talking Woman’ and ‘Turn to Stone’ and tell me this isn’t some of the best Orchestrated pop-Rock you have ever heard?


Lynne says he never got ‘Stepping Out’ right on Out of the Blue and he’s right – this version just has more weights and the amended arrangement seems to have more emotion somehow, with a grander closing…


Sadly even though billed as ‘Jeff Lynne’s ELO’; Lynne doesn’t avoid the temptation to put in a Travelling Willburys song in which is nice as a tribute to Roy and George but to be honest not necessary and relatively tepid compared to the ELO fare, especially when one of ELO’s most loved and rockiest numbers – ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ follows.


 With no ‘Last Train to London’; ‘Wild West Hero’ or ‘ Shine a Little Love’ - ‘Discovery’ their biggest selling album only gets ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ – their biggest hit there are omissions, but that only shows you the depth of ELO’s catalogue. The magical ‘Mr Blue Sky’ is heavily orchestrated and beautifully so but it’s fitting that a song like Chucky Berry’s ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ closes and brings us full circle… Lynne replete in suit and shirt, and wearing an acoustic guitar (that he never seems to change throughout) and glasses – is moved by the experience, but largely unmoving on stage, so it may not be the most visually exciting DVD you will see all year but musically it’s peerless.

 

 

 

by Mark Rockpit

 


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