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It's all a load of bollocks, quite frankly

Far from being alone in the universe

d0058360Alone In The Universe

I meant to write about this back when the album came out, but being lazy and neglecting my blog to a certain degree, I never got around to it. However, I’ve got my backside in gear thanks in no small part to going to a certain gig a couple of weeks back.

But first, the album. I don’t really look forward to new releases except for a few artists. Jeff Lynne is one of them – I pre-ordered the deluxe version and it arrived the day of release. So, armed with a set of headphones I gave it a spin. Now under the moniker Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Jeff plays all the instruments himself, aside from some background vocals by his daughter Laura, and a few bits of percussion by his sound engineer. As before, he writes it all and produces it all. I’d already heard When I Was A Boy, the autobiographical single, and as well as opening the album brilliantly, fits alongside the old classics with consummate ease.

Love and Rain has some very pleasing guitar sounds and I defy anyone not to sing along with Dirty To The Bone after the first listen. When The Night Comes sees Jeff put a slight reggae slant on proceedings, and pretty successfully too. The Sun Will Shine On You is one of the best ballads Lynne has penned and is the stand out song on the LP for me.

Ain’t It A Drag takes inspiration from Mersey Beat and is a great up-tempo number, brought back down to Earth by another slow tune All My Life. I’m Leaving You is more than a cursory nod to Roy Orbison, but if I’m honest is probably the weaker song on the album.

Another stand out track on the album is One Step At A Time. For all the nay-sayers that say this isn’t ELO, listen to this song, it has all the ingredients you could want and sounds like it would fit in on Discovery after Last Train To London very well indeed. Title track ends the proceedings, if you haven’t got the deluxe version, and again sees Lynne penning one of his best ballads so far.

So, to sum up, Alone In The Universe doesn’t break any new ground but it doesn’t have to. For those that see ELO as nothing but a guilty pleasure (a phrase I hate), this album proves that Lynne is a master of his craft and certainly still has a knack for knocking out irresistible melodies and choruses. My only criticism of the album only applies to the deluxe version. The title track finishes off the album perfectly, then Fault Line kicks in, a song I don’t particularly care for. The other bonus track Blue is brilliant and should have been on the regular release, but slightly further back in the running order. But hey, this is nit-picking, it’s a fantastic album.

It’s a four and a half out of five for me.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Genting Arena 16/4/2016

The tail end of last year saw me purchase tickets to go and see Jeff Lynne’s ELO in his home town of Birmingham. The fact he was planning to do a tour was an event enough, especially as much as Jeff disliked touring. The radio 2 Hyde Park gig went down so well, it prompted this tour and the album. Time seemed to drag waiting for it, checking the post every day to see if the tickets had arrived. The excitement building up like I was a school boy again.

Fast forward to the night of the 16th April. Genting Arena at the NEC, we arrive and carry out the act of purchasing the obligatory tour programme, t-shirt, mugs and keyrings. We were sat quite far back, but as it happened had a perfect view.

The support band came on, and it was a band I had liked for a number of years. The Feeling, evident in their own song writing that they are fans of ELO (and 10cc, Wings and Supertramp) kicked off the night in great fashion performing some of their well known hits – Fill My Little World, Love It When You Call, Sewn, Never Be Lonely and an outstanding number from their new album. Best support act I’ve seen and I urge anyone who doesn’t own their material to buy some, and I would definitely recommend seeing them live.

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A small wait, then it was time for the main show. A musical introduction morphed into an album track, Tightrope, a firm fan favourite, then went into hit single after hit single. Evil Woman, All Over The World, Living Thing, all brilliant songs and brilliantly played. When I Was a Boy, as I mentioned earlier, fits in wonderfully with the old classics and seeing it performed with them here just proves that further. Not only did it not sound out of place, but the whole audience sat and listened to it and it got one of the biggest applauses of the night. It was also the start of a nearly 34 year old man shedding a tear or two.

The audience and atmosphere were brilliant, the crowd singing along with Wild West Hero was spine-tingling as were the vocals from Jeff and the band. More tear shedding occurred during Can’t Get It Out of My Head but my personal highlights of the evening were 10538 Overture followed straight away by Secret Messages. These are two of my all time favourite ELO tunes, and the arrangement for Secret Messages live was fantastic.

More hits such as Turn To Stone, Don’t Bring Me Down, Sweet Talkin’ Woman were played with precision and the rendition of album track Steppin’ Out was superb. Everything right up to Mr Blue Sky where realisation crept in that this was near the end of the set, but this was played in its entirety and did it sound good. Off stage for a few moments before coming back on to do a rocking rendition of Roll Over Beethoven for the encore. Then that was it, all over and far too soon. A little under two hours went very quickly indeed, too quickly.

The sound was excellent, the playing from Jeff and the band was superb, the vocals were on top form as were the strings and keyboards. The icing on the cake was the light and stage display – you had to be there. My wife and I were, we were two of the 170,000 people that have seen ELO on this current tour. If they do it again, we’re going. One of the best concerts I’ve been to, and a real master class in how to do it properly.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

   

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