Jeff Lynne’s ELO at Xcel Energy Center, 7.25.19

With the Xcel Energy Center packed to the rafters, Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra managed to captivate the full house, putting the audience into an all encompassing dreamlike state for their return to the Twin Cities, their first show in town in 38 years. Always the mellow fellow, staying cool and chill onstage throughout the night, Lynne led his assembled cast of top shelf musicians through a highly satisfying and nearly spiritual 21 song marathon of 70’s disco dance floor staples.

It was a warming slow build as the band took the stage amid a sea of star projections. The sounds of flowing strings, synthesisers and the echoing vocals of “Standin’ In the Rain” set the tone as the rhythm began to gallop and the show was off into space for the next two hours.

Wasting no time Lynne continued to induce the audience with “Evil Woman” which was chalk full of his unmistakable guitar noodling, “All Over the World” and the incredibly stoned-cold groove of “Show Down” just freaking ripped. Like a Science Fiction film, the ELO UFO logo hovered on screen between songs only long enough to give dancers who’d found their stride a break. It wasn’t long before everyone rose to their feet again from the opening chords of “Do Ya”, one of so many massive singalongs that included the falsetto and swirling orchestral strings of “Livin’ Thing”, “Last Train to London” and “Can’t Get it Out of My Head” during the first half of the set.

So much of ELO’s music calls back the English songwriter and producer’s obvious love of the Beatles music and sound. One wonders had they continued on into the 70’s, they’d likely have sounded very much like what Jeff Lynne managed to create, not just with ELO but in studio and working with so many other musicians. That was entirely why it was so fitting and a truly beautiful moment when he invited Dhani Harrison to the stage to perform a song from Lynne’s “other band”, The Traveling Wilburys. Having opened the night with his own band, Harrison’s voice was primed and captured his father’s spirit and delivery during “Handle with Care”. The emotional moment was celebrated on screen with pictures of the Wilburys and throughout the Xcel with cheerful tears, joyful choruses and group hugs 

But alas the cowbells, 70’s groove and space age keyboards and strings returned for “Shine a Little Love”, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”. Focusing on the theme of the celestial world, sky maps were juxtaposed with scientific schematics and projected lazers for the forlorn but dazzling “Telephone Line”. 

Jeff Lynne and his 13 piece band of multi-talented instrumentalists took a final lap with an overwhelming amount of fun. Leading the audience with handclaps, “whoo hooos” on “Don’t Bring Me Down” turned the place out before set closers “Turn to Stone” and the wonderful “Mr. Blue Sky”.

The most satisfying aspect of the night was that after so many years of hearing this music so often in our lifetimes, to see and feel it living and breathing on stage with such precise intention by Lynne, the Electric Light Orchestra demonstrated a truly a futuristic vision. A hybrid of Rock and Roll, Disco and Classical music, a mix of sounds that has unbeknownst to most, very much made them one of the more highly influential bands of their era. It was not lost on anyone as we left the arena, Jeff Lynne and ELO put on one of the best shows they’d ever seen in their lives.

Review Danny Sigelman Photos Kyle Hansen

Setlist:

Standin’ In the Rain

Evil Woman

All Over the World

Showdown

Do Ya

When I was A Boy

Livin’ Thing

Handle with Care

Rockaria!

Last Train to London

Eldorado Overture

Can’t Get it Out of My Head

10538 Overture

Shine a Little Love

Wild West Hero

Sweet Talkin’ Woman

Telephone Line

Don’t Bring Me Down

Turn to Stone

Mr. Blue Sky

 

Encore:

Roll Over Beethoven