TVD Live Shots: Jeff Lynne’s ELO with Dhani Harrison at the Honda Center, 6/20

After nearly 50 years, the magic of Jeff Lynne and ELO lives on. Those in attendance on Thursday night bore witness to an incredible musical spectacle that seemingly transcended time and space—and one of the most incredible rock and roll shows I have seen in the past 20 years.

1970 was undoubtedly an important year in rock and roll history. The Billboard charts were packed with hits from well-established artists such as The Jackson 5, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Beatles while lesser known bands such as Earth, Wind, & Fire, Aerosmith, and Queen were just getting started on their journey to greatness. It was that same year that Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, and Bev Bevan would unite to form what is surely considered one of the most influential bands of our time, Electric Light Orchestra. As with many bands, Electric Light Orchestra (or ELO for short) has gone through many reincarnations since their inception, and after a near 13-year hiatus, reemerged once again in 2014 as Jeff Lynne’s ELO.

On Thursday June 20th, Jeff Lynne kicked off his highly anticipated tour celebrating nearly 50 years with family and friends at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. For those who have never attended an ELO show, I found it to be a “bucket-list” type of experience that should not be missed. Fans from all over the country traveled thousands of miles to be part of the magic, and Thursday’s sold-out performance delivered. The capacity crowd was one of the most diverse I have ever seen at a live show as well—people from all backgrounds and walks of life converged to celebrate one of the most storied bands on the planet. What was even more special was seeing all of the families with multiple generations of ELO fans attending the show together. Seeing moms and dads rocking out with their children and grandchildren was a truly a highlight for me on Thursday evening.

After a solid opening set by Dhani Harrison (son of the late great George Harrison), the capacity crowd began a familiar chant, “ELO, ELO, ELO!” After a quick stage change over, lights finally dimmed across the Honda Center as twelve of the thirteen members of Jeff Lynne’s ELO took the stage. Fans were literally losing their minds when from seemingly out of nowhere appeared Jeff Lynne with his signature Gibson guitar. He smiled, graciously waved to the crowd, and kicked off the show with the 1977 ELO standard, “Standin’ in the Rain.” As the song progressed, the audience was overwhelmed with visuals like no other including lights, lasers, and amazing graphics that spanned the entire width of the stage. As the song came to an end, the crowd again took to their feet and erupted with deafening applause, signaling to all that this was going to be a truly special night of rock and roll.

Over the next two hours, Jeff Lynne and company delivered to its legions of followers a breathtaking performance which one fan described as “one of the best live shows I have seen in years!” The audience was treated to 20 classic ELO hits including “Evil Woman,” “Telephone Line,” and “Mr. Blue Sky.” Vocal performances from Lynne, Mike Stevens (musical director/guitar), Milton McDonald (guitars), and Lee Pomeroy (bass) were spot-on, and each seemed to feed off the other’s energy as the evening rolled along.

I’d be remiss to not mention the other members of the amazing band Jeff Lynne has put together. Each was brilliant in their own right and added to a palpable on-stage chemistry that slayed each and every song performed. This synergy was highlighted during The Traveling Wilbury’s “Handle With Care” and was one of my favorite moments of the evening. Great to see Dhani Harrison filling in for his father on the song as well.

Thursday’s performance wrapped up with the same intensity as it began with as Lynne and Company crushed the Chuck Berry classic, “Roll Over Beethoven”—the perfect song to wrap up an incredible night of classic music in Orange County and one I won’t soon forget. Walking in a bit skeptical, I walked out of the Honda Center a truly changed man. This was not your ordinary live performance, but an actual blueprint for what a rock and roll show should be. If all bands could be as lucky…

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