Live Reviews - Reviews

Jeff Lynne’s ELO @ 3Arena, Dublin


While Jeff Lynne sure knows how to make a bold statement by suggesting he is Alone in the Universe, tonight’s show and the previous string of dates in the UK that sold out in minutes certainly suggest otherwise. Apart from long time keyboardist and collaborator Richard Tandy, Lynne has an ensemble of relatively new but seasoned musicians to recreate and reinstate his cosmic vision of Electric Light Orchestra for his first tour in over 30 years. This particular gig at Dublin’s 3Arena was originally scheduled for the previous weekend but due to illness Jeff had to postpone and apologised fervently for his bad throat while promising to make up for it tonight.

ELO opened proceedings with the full blown orchestral histrionics of Tightrope, complete with phantasmagorical lights and lasers, providing an awe inspiring backdrop for the journey through their extensive, vibrant back catalog. Despite having once lowered a lighting rig in the shape of a UFO during their live shows in the 70s as a visual highlight, the technology surrounding their stage production has ostensibly progressed ever since. Here we are provided with the same level of spectacle but in the form of dazzling high resolution images on a ginormous circular screen, complete with surrounding lights emanating the avionics on board an alien craft.


‘All Over the World’ from the incomparable Xanadu OST sounds glorious live and made even more resplendent with a projection of city lights as seen from space frantically illuminating while Lynne leads us to believe we’re orbiting the earth from the observation deck of his brightly coloured branded UFO. There’s an immense feeling that we are all on a voyage of discovery, spirited away on a polyphonic spree of vocoders, astronomic arpeggios and interstellar strings traversing the stars.

Classics such as ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Livin Thing’ and ‘Wild West Hero’ all elicit the obvious rapturous response but it’s ‘Secret Messages’ that stands out assuredly as one of tonight’s highlights. It remains an unflinching 80’s powerhouse with close encounters style guitars searching for a response from other-worldly synths, all revelling in an eclipsing crescendo in the chorus. This leads us nicely to the intergalactic gallop of ‘Shine a Little Love’, proving that Lynne has the credentials to make first contact with extraterrestrials on our behalf.

‘Turn to Stone’ ups the ante with the most impressive use of synchronised lighting yet, beaming throughout the entire arena where all eyes widened to adjust to the sheer scale of the display. In this instance it’s quite easy to forget we’re all inside a giant repurposed warehouse in the middle of an industrial estate on the north side of the city. Jeff Lynne’s ELO certainly has the combined power and the theatrics to completely transfix the audience, soaring through asteroid belts and gliding over snow planets, reminiscent of the famous scene from the film Flight of the Navigator but with a far more suitable soundtrack.


Towards the end they blast through a hyperdrive of hits with the doo wop longings of ‘Telephone Line’, the unmistakable ‘Sweet Talkin Woman’ and the distinctive descending riff of ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ all gradually building towards a rendition of ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ so enormous and triumphant that it undoubtedly could have launched the entire venue (willingly) into the exosphere.

Whilst the sole encore of ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ has everyone out of their seats and dancing, the night really could have ended on the exuberant high of ‘Mr Blue Sky’. Personally, I find it to be the weakest song in their musical canon considering it’s a cover (and, let’s face it, it already served its true purpose during the end credits of the film about the St. Bernard dog with the same name). Sadly this only highlighted the distinct lack of ‘Last Train to London’ and ‘Do Ya’, as their omittance from the set was quite surprising in an otherwise superb selection of songs and would have supplied a more fitting finale.

Nevertheless, Jeff Lynne’s humble genius mottled with his Brummie drawl reminds us all he’s the reluctant yet joyous maestro of the cosmos and we’re fortunate to be mere passengers on his spaceship of dreams. Loreana Rushe

Photos by Aaron Corr.

is the co-editor / photo editor. She also contributes photos and illustrations to The Thin Air print magazine.