Founding member Jeff Lynne was such an essential component to the massive success of Electric Light Orchestra throughout the ’70s and ’80s as the band’s sole writer, arranger, and producer after fellow founder Roy Wood left during the making of their second album, ELO 2, it seems a tad redundant for him to be leading a band called Jeff Lynne’s ELO.
But setting aside whatever legal and/or ego entanglements may have been involved in that decision, Jeff Lynne’s ELO headlined BBC Radio 2’s Festival in a Day in Hyde Park on September 14, 2014. Joined by keyboardist Richard Tandy, an ELO band member for 42 years at that time; a group of session musicians; and the BBC Concert Orchestra, Lynne led them though a 16-song setlist over the course of 70-plus minutes featuring many of ELO’s hits and popular songs to the delight of the all-ages crowd who are seen and heard clapping and singing throughout.
In an interview on the Blu-ray, Lynne describes the ELO sound: “rock and roll, harmonies, classical bits, stick ‘em all together.” This amalgamation (I’d even include “disco” for some songs) might look odd on paper, but there’s no denying Lynne’s formula worked with over 50 million records sold worldwide driven by a combined 27 Top-40 hit singles from both sides of the pond, which is helps explain how the 50,000 tickets for the event sold out in 15 minutes.
This was Lynne’s first festival concert in about 30 years, and he seems surprised at the size of the crowd and how much they are enjoying his music, likely not expecting the level of excitement that greeted the first song, “All Over the World” from the Xanadu soundtrack.
Things slow down for the ballads “Strange Magic” and “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head.” Demonstrating how different the UK pop charts were back in 1972, Lynne played their first hit “10538 Overture.” He later paid tribute to Roy Orbison and George Harrison, idols who went on to become his friends and bandmates, before playing the Traveling Wilburys’ “Handle With Care.” Lynne’s affection for ’50s music is evident on “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is King,” and there’s a Beatles influence on show closer, “Mr. Blue Sky.”
All throughout, Lynne’s vocals sound in very fine form. He is still able to hit the high notes as well as his younger self sang all those years ago, certainly much better than one would expect from a man of 66. Not sure how often they practiced, but the entire ensemble delivers the goods extremely well.
The video is has been given a 1080i/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at 1.78:1. Bright vivid hues are captured, most of which come off the enormous video screen playing behind the band. Colored lights also bathe the performers. Objects appear crystal clear throughout with rare occurrences of digital artifacts.
In the liner notes, Lynne is quoted: “It’s important to me that viewers experience the Hyde Park show exactly as is was performed on the night…in stereo.” Why is not made clear, but that is the apparent reason LPCM 2.0 is the (unfortunately) only audio option. The vocals and harmonies are always understandable. The track offers a wide dynamic range. The bass sounds accurate in support of the arrangement.
There is a 15-minute interview with Lynne conducted before the concert where talks about the band’s songs and legacy. The 80-minute documentary Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO is a more in-depth look at the man and his talents. Featuring interviews with other musical legends such as Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Tom Petty, the film not only covers ELO, but Lynne’s work as a producer with Orbison, Harrison, and the Beatles and playing with the Traveling Wilburys. It’s filled with great archival footage.
Live in Hyde Park is highly recommend for ELO fans and the greatest-hits setlist would make a good introduction to those new to the band.