Mr. Blue Sky has returned and I am not meaning the beautiful sunny weather, I am talking about one of my favorite artists of all time, the legend that is Jeff Lynne and his superb Electric Light Orchestra. Last Wednesday, my husband and I had the great privilege of watching 69-year-old Jeff Lynne lead the Electric Light Orchestra at the O2 in London.
The reception was absolutely astounding as the lights started to flash and there was a digital recreation of the famous neon jukebox flying saucer (one of the bands’ trademarks for those wondering!) as it hovered above the stage which was complete with the main man and his entourage which included a violin and two cellos as they belted out their fabulous choral harmonies and had the fans all singing along in joyous rapture with what can only be described as some of the best pop music ever.
Reviews were in total agreeance that the performance was a true five stars all round. I cannot remember when I have ever had so many conversations about a concert, with everyone displaying adoration and raving about the uplifting spirit of warmth and universal delight that this concert brought us.
In all fairness in our house it is not just my husband and I that are fans, our teenage son is also partial to a track or two by the great ELO and was somewhat disgruntled when he realized that the tickets were actually for his parents rather than him! In retrospect it says an awful lot when a teenager who is constantly being told to turn the rubbish that masquerades as music down, yet is a fan of the great Jeff Lynne, shows that we as parents must be doing something right!
Going back to the concert, we never expected in a million years to actually get to meet Lynne in person, let alone talk to him, yet this is exactly what happened. Admittedly we were standing on the outer circle as a journalist was asking Lynne how it felt to have such a reception. Lynne, smiled and said that he found it amazing to have this amount of recognition. He really was genuinely humbled by the reception provided by his fans. Even when ELO were at their height they were never really considered cool, there was just something cheesy about the rich melodies and vast soundscapes as well as the polished hooks and harmonies that you couldn’t get out of your head.
In short they were to poppy for a progressive rock group and too well polished for a heavy rock band and somewhere out there and over the top for punks. With their brushy beards and frizzy hair, they never really had a definite niche or genre. Their music seemed to disappear with the synth drive of the 80s, and ELO appeared to vanish. Lynne who wrote all of the songs and played most of the instruments whilst in the studio quit the business in 1983, however he did play at a few gigs in 1986.
Jeff Lynne remains true to himself and still sports the same look as he did back in the 70s, with his features completely obscured by a huge mop of hair, full beard and giant aviator glasses which he is never seen without. Although he has not lived in England for years he speaks with a warm Midlands accent and a demeanor that could only be described as that of a man that spends the majority of his time in the air-conditioned, artificially lit inside of recording studios. When the journalist asked him about the time he decided to stop touring he said at that point he was happy to give it up, explaining that back then, it was really hard work, trying to get the cellos right and violins and all those necessary parts as it never sounded the way that he wanted it to.
From this time Lynne’s career took another turn and he settled into the role as a back room operator and was one of the most sought after songwriter and producers in LA. He openly admits that the studio is where he is happiest, as he can take a small bit of a tune and after some time he hopes to turn it into something great. Jeff Lynne and ELO released their album Zoom in 2001 however when it failed to chart the comeback tour was cancelled and it looked as though this rock giant was now the forgotten music man.
All of this undoubtedly made this new wave of appreciation all the sweeter, however the fans amongst us could sense it coming, and when you think about it there is a lot of ELO’s influence make a reappearance in the music of today.
Once the interview was over my husband and I were blessed as we got to speak to the legend himself and my husband couldn’t help but ask whether ELO may take their spaceship for one last orbit around the world? Lynne simply said “Hold that thought and who knows what the future may hold!” then turned, leaving us in awe of this great music legend as he walked away.