As anyone who’s been to a recent show by Jeff Lynne’s ELO, the concert is literally jam-packed with showstoppers from the 1970’s and ’80s. Lynne wrote, performed, and produced ELO’s latest set, 2019’s From Out Of Nowhere, which topped the charts in England and hit Number Six on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart.
In a new chat with Record Collector, Lynne revealed that his revival as a touring entity has proven that some of the group’s hits have aged far better than others, admitting, “‘Turn To Stone’ is my favorite song to play live nowadays. Which amazes me, because I never realized how popular that song was. So, I moved it to second-to-last in the set, before ‘Mr. Blue Sky.'”
As to why the song has had such an effect on the crowd, Lynne explained, “See, it’s got that high, ‘I’m turning to stone ’cause you ain’t comin’ home’ chanted bit which stops it dead. . . And the crowd go absolutely mad at that point. The noise level. . . they just go through the roof. So, I love playin’ it for them. Plus, it’s got nice chords. Shouldn’t say so myself but. . . it has! I just put them in order (laughs).”
Lynne was reminded that unlike most of his British contemporaries, the Electric Light Orchestra was able to straddle the fence between prog rock and the Top 40 pop charts with ease: “Yeah, I’ve noticed that. Funnily enough, I’ve never tried to be either of those styles. I guess I have tried to be pop music, that’s basically what I like best. I don’t mean sugary pop. I mean melodies and arrangements that aren’t too picky and clever for my own good. . . I do put layer upon layer, yes, but usually in recording, it’s only me playing. so I have to.”
Lynne remains in awe of how the technology has changed for live performers over the years: “At Wembley Stadium we had a PA system that was 200,000 watts. Now, I mention that because I remember when we started out, playing in pubs and clubs, you were lucky if you got a 50-watt PA. You never imagined the likes of this. I just loved shouting through it, and hearing the echo back, at the place where (footballer) Bobby Moore lifted the World cup (in 1966 for England).”
Jeff Lynne spent decades avoiding the stage, only to in recent years take his show on the road performing across Europe and North America in both arenas and stadiums. Following his June 24th, 2017 concert at London’s Wembley Stadium in front of an estimated 80,000 fans — he couldn’t hide his emotions: [“I was knocked out with the crowd; y’know, there so many waving along, and clapping along, and singing along — I love that. As a songwriter, y’know, that’s what you love when everybody’s singing your song and it’s louder that you’re singing it — which is great.”] SOUNDCUE (:13 OC: . . . which is great)
- Jeff Lynne says that apart from “Mr. Blue Sky,” the most popular song in ELO‘s setlist is the group’s 1977 classic, “Turn To Stone.”
- Lynne told Record Collector: “‘Turn To Stone’ is my favorite song to play live nowadays. Which amazes me, because I never realized how popular that song was. So, I moved it to second-to-last in the set, before ‘Mr. Blue Sky.'”
- Between 1975 and 1986 ELO scored 15 Top 20 hits — all written and produced by Jeff Lynne: “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” (#10), “Evil Woman” (#9), “Strange Magic” (#14), “Livin’ Thing” (#13), “Telephone Line” (#7), “Turn To Stone” (#13), “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” (#17), “Shine A Little Love” (#8), “Don’t Bring Me Down” (#4), “I’m Alive” (#16), “All Over The World” (#13), “Xanadu” – with Olivia Newton-John (#8), “Hold On Tight” (#10), “Rock N’ Roll Is King” (#19), and “Calling America” (#18).