We were all ready for a bit of ‘Blue Sky’ as we filed into Buxton Opera House on a cold, wet weekday evening. Tribute band The ELO Experience soon made us forget the dreary winter weather as they launched into their show celebrating the classic fusion of rock and strings of Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra.
I have seen this band many times before but never tire of these eight fine musicians who faithfully reproduce such classics as ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Telephone Line’ and ‘Turn to Stone’.
Jeff Lynne soundalike and lookalike Andy Louis does a tremendous job throughout adding a touch of his own humour in between songs. Although the great man himself is now touring since his big come-back in Hyde Park in 2014 for me this band provide a welcome ‘top-up’ of all my ELO favourites. As a devoted fan for most of my life (I went to see the original ‘Out of the Blue’ concert in the ‘70s) I can promise you that the sound this brilliant tribute band produce is as near to the ‘real thing’ as you could possibly get.
The cappella vocals section during ‘Wild West Hero’ (one of my personal favourites) by Andy with Pete Smith (bass guitar and vocals) and Jan Christiansen (lead guitar and vocals) was sheer perfection.
Many of the livelier, more ‘rocky’ numbers were saved for the second half and had people dancing in the aisles and jiggling and waving their blue glow sticks purchased in the interval. ‘Rockaria’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ were performed with gusto and violinist Liz Stacey’s performance in the latter was electrifying – I half expected the instrument to go up in flames!
The show finished – quite naturally – with the rousing, evergreen ‘Mr Blue Sky’, the pulsating beat being provided by drummer Tony Lawson who had been the backbone to the sound throughout the whole performance. Keyboards, vocals and the special effects so characteristic of Jeff Lynne’s music were by Musical Director of the band Steve Hemsley.
If you like the music of the ELO then you really must go and see the ELO Experience when they’re next in town as you will not be disappointed. As we left the Opera House even the cold rain which slapped us in the face seemed more tolerable wrapped in the warm glow of a thoroughly enjoyable evening.