TVD Live Shots: Jeff Lynne’s ELO at the O2 Arena, 10/17

One of the most iconic songwriters of all time is about to turn 71 years old, but you would never guess that based on his touring schedule.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO took to the stage at the O2 Arena in front of a capacity crowd to play the first show of a four-night run at the legendary venue. It’s truly a show for the ages as fans both old and new turned up in droves to see the Birmingham native play the classics with his incredibly talented band. The cross-generational impact of ELO’s music is evident with the diversity of the crowd and even a bit surprising as I saw several millennial hipsters dressed up with fake wigs, beards, and sunglasses in honor of the signature look that has defined Lynne’s brand over the years.

Having seen Jeff Lynne’s ELO last year at Wembley, I was excited to see him in a more “intimate” venue. While the O2 holds a meager 20,000 vs. Wembley’s 90,000, it was a stadium show for an arena crowd, and it was magnificent. Opening the set with “Standing in the Rain” immediately began to warm up the eager audience before launching into “Evil Woman”—then it was game over as the crowd lept to their feet and sang along with every single word.

The setlist celebrated ELO’s entire catalog, but the last five songs set up what could arguably be the most backloaded setlist in the history of setlists. Put on your rock ‘n’ roll seatbelts as Jeff Lynne below the roof off of the arena with the following songs one after another leading up to the encore: “Sweet Talking Woman,” “Telephone Line,” “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “Turn to Stone,” and “Mr. Blue Sky.”

Even with that finale, there were plenty of hits frontloaded as well. Another standout of the evening was a stellar performance of the Traveling Wilbury’s classic “Handle with Care” paying tribute to Lynne’s much-missed bandmates Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison. The only thing missing that evening was the guilty pleasure of “Xanadu” which was in the setlist at Wembley and was sorely missed!

An epic night of music that sounded almost too good to be true. Jeff Lynne is an absolute rock ‘n’ roll treasure with plenty more left to say. Let’s hope we get another ELO record out while the momentum is there. Jeff Lynne’s ELO tour continues across Europe before kicking off another leg in the US. Find all the dates here—and don’t miss this one.

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