(July 28, 2019). I saw them again last night. And you know that I shouldn’t.
But I did, and this time it was a bigger venue. This time they were more polished.
And this time they took the “Last Train To London,” and I was in heaven.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO (formerly Electric Light Orchestra) made a return engagement to Chicago and played the United Center – a 23,500-seat venue that was significantly larger than the 16,000-seat Allstate Arena he and his band played here a year ago.
As last year’s show marked the beginning of his worldwide tour and the first time Lynne’s ELO was performing in nearly 40 years, the Rock Hall of Famer has had a full year to round out the edges and hone in on what made ELO so great in the first place.
For the most part, the set list was the same as last year, with one key addition: Lynne and Co. surprised with the under-appreciated, disco-tinged “Last Train To London,” the 1979/80 top-40 hit that was left out of last year’s show but, by its addition here, made this year’s set list just about complete from this fan’s viewpoint.
And the songs that were performed last year at Allstate Arena just sounded better here at the United Center. For instance, that driving kick that was missing from their biggest chart hit “Don’t Bring Me Down” in 2018? Well, it was present last night.
Lynne even sounded more confident in his singing last night, often hitting the highs in falsetto that defined these hits four decades ago.
But even more special this year was who opened for Lynne’s group, a man whose musical lineage is one that most would envy.
Dhani Harrison, son of (and dead ringer for) the late, great George Harrison, opened with nine tracks of his own before yielding the stage to the headline act.
And while I couldn’t help but marvel at how much Dhani looked like his father, nothing could have prepared us for the moment he returned to the stage during Jeff Lynne’s set.
As he did last year, Lynne performed “Handle With Care,” the classic track he recorded when he was part of the Traveling Wilburys. But this time, Dhani joined him on stage and performed his late father’s parts – sounding exactly like the ex-Beatle and bringing cheers of approval and appreciation from the nearly 23,500 in attendance.
Just like last year, fans were swept into nostalgia as images of Lynne’s fellow ex-Wilburys flashed on the huge screen onstage: late members Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty – as well as Bob Dylan – each one drawing wild applause from the very enthusiastic audience as their images appeared.
By the time the show ended, Jeff Lynne’s entourage of highly skilled musicians had gone through 21 songs in just over 90 minutes, a very efficient but very entertaining performance from start to finish.
Needless to say, this ELO fan was satisfied for having seen them a second time in just under 12 months.
And, if given the chance, I’d do it all over again.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO’s set list from Chicago’s United Center on July 25, 2019:
- Standin’ In The Rain
- Evil Woman
- All Over the World
- Do Ya (Move cover)
- When I Was A Boy
- Livin’ Thing
- Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys cover w/ Dhani Harrison)
- Last Train To London
- Eldorado Overture
- Can’t Get It Out Of My Head
- 10538 Overture 4
- Shine A Little Love
- Wild West Hero
- Sweet Talkin’ Woman
- Telephone Line
- Don’t Bring Me Down
- Turn To Stone
- Mr. Blue Sky
- Roll Over Beethoven (encore; Chuck Berry cover)
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.
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