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ELO Sounded so Good on Saturday Night … But Were They too Good?

So last week I went to two live shows.  Two very different shows in two very different venues.

The first show was at the Aragon Ballroom.  It was James and Psychedelic Furs.   Both fab acts.  I hadn’t seen James live before and wow do they put on an interesting show.  They have 8 band members who play a variety of instruments and they just seem to be making it up as they go along.  They were all about audience participation and truly connecting with the crowd.  It was really an amazing experience except for one major detail … they didn’t play their big hits.  I did a survey about this on the River’s Facebook page after the show and for the most part River listeners are all in agreement with me … bands should play the hits.  It just seems pretentious not to.

So flash forward a few nights later I head out to the United Center to see ELO.   Jeff Lynne played hit after hit and every song sounded album perfect.  The sound and the mix and the musicianship was out of this world (as you would expect from ELO).   However and I know this sounds a little strange.  It was a little too perfect.  They never strayed from the original songs … no mixing it up so to speak.  Jeff Lynne is a shy lad so he communicated very sparingly with the audience … it was truly a brilliant show but just felt a little sterile.   Probably my favorite moment was when Dahni Harrison came out and sang his dad’s part in a Travelling Wilbury’s song… that was really emotional but other than that it all felt a little removed.

Maybe I’m just hard to please … but honestly somewhere between James and ELO seems like it could be an amazing show.

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