Jeff Lynne’s ELO performing their Alone In The Universe Tour at Sheffield Arena on Wednesday 21st June 2017.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

It was only in April 2016 that Jeff Lynne’s ELO toured the UK but for some inexplicable reason, Sheffield Arena was left of the list. Last night that wrong was righted as a sell out crowd turned out to witness the famous giant spaceship land in their area.

With his very talented twelve piece band, Lynne looked essentially unchanged since his 70s hey days fronting ELO, with his curly hair, beard and aviator glasses. In fact nothing had changed since he toured last year, including his outfit and it was not just Lynne who was unchanged; with a few exceptions every song on the set list was reproduced exactly as the fans remembered them.

With a giant spaceship, pyrotechnics and big screen visuals all adding to the experience, there was plenty to see as well as hear. Opening with a gentle Standin’ In The Rain, a song which was last aired in a live arena in 1982, before he upped the tempo with Evil Woman

There were other nods to his less celebrated compositions such as Xanadu written for Olivia Newton John, Do Ya from his days with The Move and a very well received Handle With Care from his time with super group, The Traveling Wilburys.

Showcasing a supple and comforting voice, he glided through All Over The World, Showdown and When I Was A Boy, before the glamorous female string section came into their own with the splendid Livin’ Thing and backing vocalist Melanie Lewis-McDonald demonstrated her superb vocal range during Rockaria!

Wild West Hero was accompanied by images of vast open landscape on the backdrop screen, before a scintillating sequence of Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Telephone Line, Turn To Stone and Don’t Bring Me Down were pristine joy and served to remind what a craftsman Lynne really is with his memorable hooks and wonderful melodies.

One of the visual standout moments came during Twilight when the lasers danced on the Arena roof whilst footage of spaceships floated through a futuristic cityscape, and for Can’t Get It Out Of My Head, the whole place was illuminated by mobile phone lights.

Finishing a very accomplished set with Mr Blue Sky, the whole audience were up on their feet and matching Lynne word for word. For the encore it had to be Roll Over Beethoven and he did not disappoint as along with guitarist Milton McDonald they indulged their inner Chuck Berry.

As the spaceship flew off to prepare for Lynne’s Wembley show, the figure at the centre of it all, whose name is now a prefix to his group’s after legal disputes with former band mates, had delivered a flawless concert. But if truth be told there had been no traces of spontaneity or surprise, just excellent musicianship, outstanding visuals and brilliant songs. And for many, that was more than enough.