Electric Light Orchestra – Electric Light Orchestra Live


Review by David Waterfield


In 2001, Jeff Lynne reactivated ELO and released a new studio album entitled Zoom.  A North American tour was scheduled for summer/autumn of that year and so Jeff assembled an eight piece band which included Marc Mann, Rosie Vela and former ELO band mate Richard Tandy. The curtain raiser for both the album and the tour was a PBS television special filmed at CBS Television City, Los Angeles which was later released on DVD as Zoom Tour Live. Although the DVD of the show has been available for over a decade this is the first time that it has been released on CD. Electric Light Orchestra Live is a long overdue and a more than welcome addition to the ELO catalogue – but it also represents something of a missed opportunity.

On the positive side it features four tracks that were not found on the original DVD – ‘Sweet Talkin Woman’, ‘Confusion’, ‘Secret Messages’ and ‘Twilight’ – as well as two new studio tracks.  Weighed against that is the fact that well over half of the show has been omitted here, including numerous ELO classics, several live highlights (no place for ‘One Summer Dream’) and absolutely everything off Zoom!  As a long term fan of ELO I can’t help but feel that a two disc edition of the whole show, including Jeff Lynne’s between song banter (which has also been edited out) would have been a much more satisfying proposition.

In keeping with the feel of the Zoom album that the show was promoting, this ELO line up has an organic and less grandiose sound with the strings playing a less prominent role. The reconstructed ELO are a proficient and precise musical unit and Jeff Lynne is in fine voice throughout. It’s particularly gratifying to hear the title track of their criminally underrated 1983 album Secret Messages as it’s a track that ELO never performed live. And I’m sure that Jeff Lynne actually sings the misheard lyrics “It’s a surreal submarine” during ‘Showdown’!

Perhaps the major selling point of this release is the inclusion of two new studio tracks. ‘Cold Feet’ is a slightly downbeat affair whilst, by contrast, ‘Out Of Luck’ sounds like a long-forgotten Rock n Roll classic from the halcyon days of Sun Records, rather than the original Jeff Lynne composition that it is.

Sadly, the ‘Zoom Tour’ was not to be. This 2001 show in Los Angeles was both the beginning and the end. Electric Light Orchestra Live offers a tantalising glimpse into what might have been…

Electric Light Orchestra Live7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Evil Woman
  2. Showdown
  3. Secret Messages
  4. Livin’ Thing
  5. Sweet Talkin’ Woman
  6. Mr Blue Sky
  7. Can’t Get It Out Of My Head
  8. Twilight
  9. Confusion
  10. Don’t Bring Me Down
  11. Roll Over Beethoven
  12. Out Of Luck
  13. Cold Feet