Jeff Lynne’s ELO Lights Up NYC Stage

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Jeff Lynne ELO Irving Plaza 11-20-15 Instagram

Jeff Lynne’s ELO
Irving Plaza, November 20, 2015
In A Word: Electric

Hit after hit. They were all there Friday night as Jeff Lynne’s ELO – as they’re now billed – performed a triumphant concert before a packed house at New York’s Irving Plaza.

“Evil Woman,” “Telephone Line,” “Strange Magic”… but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Lynne and his orchestra – and with 12 members onstage, it truly is one – were in the city for a media blitz that included The Tonight Show to promote the new Electric Light Orchestra album, Alone In The Universe, released earlier last week on Columbia.

The official capacity for the general admission venue is 1,025 but the estimated crowd was easily twice that. This show and a second one next week at L.A.’s Fonda Theatre sold-out in minutes when Lynne announced the dates recently on social media.

When the band, er, orchestra, finished their opener, “All Over The World,” they were greeted with sustained applause. For most of the crowd, it was likely their first time seeing ELO, as they haven’t performed live in nearly 30 years.

Lynne was joined onstage by longtime ELO bandmate Richard Tandy, whose distinctive keyboards are so crucial to their sound. His occasional talk box vocals on “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” and “Mr. Blue Sky” drew cheers.

Lynne rarely spoke; after the evening’s third song – “Showdown” – he said, “It’s so great to be playing in America again.” And other than Tandy, he didn’t introduce those onstage. (Drummer Donavan Hepburn deserved to be singled out.) But Lynne’s joy at reviving ELO was evident and he offered “Fantastic!” countless times to acknowledge the crowd’s enthusiasm. And his singing voice sounded great and even at 67 was able to hit most of the high notes of songs that he originally recorded while in his twenties.

Related: ELO lights up their 2017 Rock Hall induction

Purely from a crowd reaction, the evening’s highlights were “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “Telephone Line” and “Mr. Blue Sky” although the band knocked the lesser known “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is King” and their early cover (and the evening’s closer) of “Roll Over Beethoven” out of the park.

Lynne and company performed four songs from Alone In The Universe, including the semi-autobiographical first single, “When I Was A Boy,” and the Wilbury-like “Ain’t It A Drag.” But it was a night to celebrate ELO’s catalog of hit singles.

After such a long dormancy, the maestro should have no doubt that audiences are eager to hear these songs performed live. An announcement of a proper U.S. tour and other markets surely will be made soon.

Update (October 2017): In September 2015, a surprise announcement of a new LP, followed by small venue concerts in NY and LA. Since then, a tour of Europe and the U.K., five more shows in NY and LA, a well-deserved Rock Hall induction, and a live album, Wembley or Bust. So, where’s the U.S. tour?

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Greg Brodsky

Greg Brodsky

Best Classic Bands Founder/CEO Greg Brodsky earned his first professional bylines as a reporter for the music trade weekly Record World. He still has all his vinyl albums and enjoys going to flea markets and garage sales to grow his collection.
Greg Brodsky
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  1. musicfan
    #1 musicfan 21 November, 2015, 11:40

    If you have ever been an ELO/Jeff Lynne fan, last night’s show should remain embedded in your memory unless you get Alzheimer’s one day. And even then, if that is the only thing you remember, you can die with a smile on your face. Morbid I know, but judging by the age of much of the crowd, appropriate. Just amazing. I feel very lucky to have been there.

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  2. ELOFAN
    #2 ELOFAN 23 November, 2015, 18:12

    One more off my bucket list! It was Fantastic to have been there and sing-along with the master, Jeff Lynne.

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  3. Matt S.
    #3 Matt S. 10 December, 2015, 22:00

    I was attended the LA Fonda Theater show. How come Jeff hasn’t aged like you’d expect? Strange Magic, indeed.

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