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Review: ELO Experience at the Central Theatre, Chatham

ELO Experience, Central Theatre, Chatham

Remember the days, before the internet, when you met a sweet talkin’ woman, carelessly let her go, and then were desperate to find out who she was? You had to traipse down one-way streets (for the chance to meet) - without GPS - and then had to wait for the operator on the line in your fruitless search for love. Even if you were lucky to get a number you had to sit on the Telephone Line all night waiting for her to answer. With Google, Facebook and Twitter, it’s so much easier - but it doesn’t make for great songwriting material.

We were transported back to those analogue days as the ELO Experience ran through Jeff Lynne’s back catalogue from 10538 Overture to When I was a Boy - about 43 years. This tribute act have no doubt been assisted by Lynne’s renaissance following his Hyde Park concert in 2014 so it was surprising that the Central Theatre wasn’t rammed. Though there were still enough diehards and converts to ensure we were reelin' and rockin' all through the night (well at least until 9.30).

The ELO Experience
The ELO Experience

Lynne is a serious musician and carries that on stage with very little in the way of physical flourishes or gags to get into, so Andy Louis doesn’t have much to work with other than the voice and the look. However, he put a smile on the face of the latterday Wilbury, and added a few self-deprecating gags to put the light into the Electric Light Orchestra.

He coped admirably with the tricky falsetto required in Last Train to London (or Chatham as they amusingly switched it) although his attempts to imitate did make his vocals sound slightly strangled at times - but overall he was right on song.

The band, complete with an excellent string trio, left ballads like Can’t Get It Out of my Head and Wild West Hero to the first half and then cranked it up in the second. And if there’s one criticism is it wasn’t quite loud enough, especially on raucous rocky anthems like Don’t Bring Me Down and Rockaria! which really need to be blasted at the audience.

And as sure as the Last Train to London will be late, or cancelled, and as certain as Mr Night follows day, you knew the audience would be sent home to the strains of Mr Blue Sky.

Yep, you did it right.

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