Saturday, September 10, 2016

Jeff Lynne's ELO stunning in Hollywood Bowl debut

Jeff Lynne at the Hollywood Bowl on September 9, 2016.
Photo: Kim Kinsler
When I watched Jeff Lynne's ELO Live in Hyde Park on DVD in September 2015, I was blown away with the enduring power of  Lynne's songs, as well as the performance itself. After watching that concert film a number of times, I became easily convinced that Lynne and company should perform stateside in his own backyard (Lynne lives in Southern California).

That dream came true after catching Jeff Lynne's ELO with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra under the baton of conductor Thomas Wilkins on Friday night (Sept. 9, 2016). Before a capacity crowd, Lynne led the musical ensemble through a dream set of enticing singles, deeper album tracks and several gems off his wonderful 2015 album Alone in the Universe. Jeff Lynne's ELO is scheduled to perform again today and tomorrow (Sept. 10 and 11, 2016).

Not only did Lynne's voice sound as marvelous as it did when he racked up a stack of hits in the 1970s, but his guitar playing and understated-but-charismatic aura remains similarly intact. The larger-than-life stage afforded by performing at the legendary Hollywood Bowl combined with the image of a top-tier orchestra performing behind Jeff Lynne's ELO and use of a high resolution rear projection screen and incredible laser/lighting made for a dramatic experience to be sure. 

The Hollywood Bowl was the perfect setting and
venue to celebrate the return of Jeff Lynne's ELO.
Photo: Kim Kinsler
There were so many wondrous moments, including the luxurious opener "Tightrope," sweeping "Evil Woman," signature sounding "Showdown" featuring Lynne's melodic guitar work and an ethereal "All Over the World" coming early in the 90-minute set, the latter followed by Lynne acknowledging: "What a fantastic place to play…I've never played here before." 

Of particular interest to fans of Lynne was the inclusion of several introspective originals off his latest album. "Love and Rain," which came early in the night, was adorned by lush vocals from his backing singers and a heartfelt solo that Lynne delivered on his electric guitar. The piano-anchored "When I Was a Boy" was even more majestic, Lynne's honest vocals and acoustic guitar work layered with the skillful work of pianist Richard Tandy the orchestra  especially during the swelling finish of the number.

Because Electric Light Orchestra was always known for the fusion of rock, pop and symphony, many of the most dramatic selections fully flourished under the stars; the magnificent "Rockaria!" with its blend of operatic singing and rock 'n' roll song craft was a delight as was the cello and guitar embellished "10538 Overture." Later in the U.S. premiere of "Wild West Hero" (off 1978's Out of the Blue album) Lynne somehow guided the players through an ambitious work that morphed from acoustic piece into a rocker with a vocal a cappella section included along the way. Amazing.

And what can be said about the thrill of hearing the wondrous chills-inducing "Mr. Blue Sky" delivered at the Bowl, complete with Lynne's George Harrison-inspired guitar solo.

The pyrotechnics added firepower to the closing
moments of Jeff Lynne's ELO concert.
Photo: Robert Kinsler
The perfect night was capped with an extended version of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," complete with a spectacular fireworks show. 

Opening up for Jeff Lynne's ELO was the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which performed a short but memorable set highlighted by a potent performance of composer Edward Elgar's Variations, Op. 36 commonly known as "Nimrod." If you can score a ticket for tonight or tomorrow night, do.

Review by Robert Kinsler

Jeff Lynne's ELO setlist, Friday, Sept. 9, 2016:
1. Tightrope
2. Evil Woman
3. Showdown
4. All Over the World
5. Love and Rain
6. Livin' Thing
7. When I Was a Boy
8. Rockaria!
9. 10538 Overture
10. Can't Get It Out of My Head
11. Shine a Little Love
12. Wild West Hero (first-ever performance in the U.S.)
13. Telephone Line
14. Turn To Stone
15. Sweet Talkin' Woman
16. Don't Bring Me Down
17. Mr. Blue Sky
18. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry cover)


Randy said...

I've waited 40 years for tonight! I'm so excited. I even wrote a novel based on ELO songs that starts with "Tightrope," so this is going to be heaven for me.

Vernon Espiritu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.