REVIEW: Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Jeff Lynne's ELO at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena. Photo: Carl Chambers.
Jeff Lynne's ELO at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena. Photo: Carl Chambers.
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There are few, if any, more upbeat songs than ELO’s Mr Blue Sky with which to lift the spirits and banish the chill of a North East evening.

By the time the familiar opening of Jeff Lynne’s classic tune thumped across the arena, the bleak evening outside was a distant memory. The crowd were basking in the electric glow of a fantastic night.

After decades out of the limelight, Jeff Lynne’s ELO last night fair exploded back onto the scene again with a fanfare of visual effects and a long overdue airing of a backlog of hits.

It was as if the fantastical rock pop masters had never been away. Certainly, frontman Mr Lynne belied his 68 years in both looks and performance.

Sporting his trademark curly hair and shades, he may well have just stepped out of that ELO spaceship of the Seventies.

Wherever ELO have been, Mr Lynne has not rested on his laurels. The show featured a selection of new material from the reformed band’s new, and critically acclaimed, album Alone in the Universe.

The eyes have it! The spectacular lightshow at Jeff Lynne's ELO gig in Newcastle. Photo: Carl Chambers.

The eyes have it! The spectacular lightshow at Jeff Lynne's ELO gig in Newcastle. Photo: Carl Chambers.

But it was the classics that really stole the show.

In their heyday they were described as (and possibly oversold as) ‘the band the Beatles could have been,’ not helped by John Lennon describing them as the “sons of the Beatles.”

The comparisons are understandable. Memorable tunes, full-blown orchestral accompaniment, experimental sounds … ELO were carrying on where Sgt Pepper left off.

Last night, however, Jeff Lynne’s ELO were blowing their own trumpets with hits like Livin’ Thing, Turn to Stone and Sweet Talking Woman rocking the arena.

Jeff Lynne.

Jeff Lynne.

It was the rock 'n' roll numbers like Rockaria that really got the audience going, and even had me feeling like dancing.

Stepping Out, from the Out of the Blue double album, showcased the Beatles influence (it was very George Harrison), while the special effects went into overdrive with a huge rotating telephone dial up on stage for Telephone Line and more spectacular light effects for Turn to Stone.

Old favourites Wild West Hero and Don’t Bring Me Down saw the fans up on their feet and the heavy bass shaking the floor, though it was the note perfect Mr Blue Sky that really lit up the night. The band took a bow, and a selfie, before leaving the stage to tumultuous applause.

How do you follow that? Well, a pimped up encore of Roll Over Beethoven, since you ask.

Out of the blue. Jeff Lynne's ELO at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena. Photo: Carl Chambers.

Out of the blue. Jeff Lynne's ELO at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena. Photo: Carl Chambers.

An electric night all round. 10 out of 10.

NB: Spare a thought for support act The Feeling. It's no easy task warming up for big boys, but the (relatively) young pretenders did a great job with their melodic pop rock numbers. The BRIT-award nominated act were promoting their latest album, The Feeling, released last month. And on this hearing, they're well worth a listen.