Tuesday, September 13, 2016

REVIEW: Electric Light Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl (VIDEO)

Well, ELO lit up the place.

I can't remember reading a more enthusiastic music review, at least not recently.

From Randall Roberts, at LAT, "Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra makes flawless landing in Hollywood Bowl debut."

I would've loved to have been there. A real orchestra backing up Jeff Lynne and his band. What a treat:

Given the breathtaking melodies and arrangements propelling Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday night, it’s a wonder that the venue’s stage and shell didn’t blast off into the cosmos as the concert was ending.

Performing the first of three consecutive nights in a long-overdue appearance at the Bowl, the singer, songwriter, producer and pop-polisher Lynne and a dynamic backing band teamed with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra to play songs from another symphony, the Electric Light.

ELO’s exquisitely produced, aerodynamic hits, including “Evil Woman,” “All Over the World” and “Don’t Bring Me Down,” ignited FM radio throughout the 1970s and early ‘80s, soaring through arenas and into a generation’s collective memory.

The result four decades later was a dazzling concert that seemed beamed from another galaxy. Under the direction of conductor Thomas Wilkins, the Bowl Orchestra added a monumental depth to “Living Thing,” and made the disco strings on “Shine a Little Love” swirl with a wild physicality. When original ELO keyboardist Richard Tandy’s robot-synthesized voice saluted “Mr. Blue Sky” during the jubilant curio of the same name, the crowd might have been “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” witnesses watching a spaceship land.

Fans have seemingly been waiting light years for Lynne to return to his classics. Proof? How the sold-out crowd, during a roaring version of Lynne’s ode to longing “Turn to Stone,” bellowed word-for-word that classic, double-time vocal break: “Yes I’m turning to stone ’cause you ain’t coming home/ Why ain’t you coming home if I’m turning to stone? /You’ve been gone for so long and I can’t carry on/ Yes I’m turning, I’m turning, I’m turning to stone.”

That instrument-free refrain only lasted a few bars, but when the music — electric and acoustic guitars, synthesizers, sheets of strings and a backing track adding layers of studio effects — returned, it did so with a blast that likely echoed across the Hollywood basin.

Donning his omnipresent sunglasses and the same wavy mop-top he’s worn since the mid-1970s, Lynne between songs seemed overwhelmed by the attention, as if he hadn’t fully grasped the continued magnetism of his best work.

That’s understandable. Lynne, 68, attempted to resurrect ELO for a tour about 15 years ago, but interest had so waned that he scrapped the whole thing. Since then he’s focused on producing, all the while watching a new generation of fans latch on to his exquisitely crafted work. This time around, the tours are selling out.

Friday illustrated why. An effervescent celebration from a marvelous creator, the concert affirmed what critics at the time only begrudgingly acknowledged: that Lynne’s way with songcraft, arranging and production was a singular achievement. It’s no accident Lynne titled this round of dates the “Alone in the Universe” tour...