Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust (2 CD/1 Blu-Ray)
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Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust (2 CD/1 DVD)
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Wembley or Bust is a special release commemorating the June 24th, 2017 performance by Jeff Lynne's ELO at the famed Wembley Stadium in London, England. The Wembley or Bust album is available digitally, or physically as a 2 disc audio CD and a 3 LP vinyl package. There are also two Deluxe packages each including the 2 disc CD set, and the concert film on Standard DVD or BLU-RAY DVD. The music is produced by Jeff Lynne, and the concert film is directed by Paul Dugdale.
In Wembley or Bust, we see Jeff and his remarkable musical ensemble filling Wembley Stadium with one of the greatest rock & roll spectacles of all time, complete with bells, whistles and spaceships in front of a 60,000 capacity crowd. As Jeff says himself 'It's the best time I ever had in music... It is beyond anything I could have imagined'. More popular than ever, Jeff Lynne's ELO have always been known for their epic live shows and with a distinct style that seamlessly and innovatively blends rock, pop and classical music.
The Wembley or Bust audio and film includes performances of many of the most beloved songs of our lifetime, from vintage ELO classics like "Mr. Blue Sky," "Livin' Thing" and "Evil Woman" to "Do Ya" from his days with The Move, "Handle With Care" which he recorded with the Traveling Wilburys, right through "When I Was A Boy" from his latest ELO masterpiece, Alone In The Universe.
Jeff Lynne is widely regarded as one of the greatest record producers in music history. In addition to his storied career in ELO, Lynne was a co-founder and member of The Travelling Wilburys together with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Tom Petty as well as a producer and collaborator with some of the biggest names in music including The Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, and most recently, Bryan Adams.
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The sound quality at a Jeff Lynne's ELO concert is truly phenomenal. When Jeff made those records 35-40 years ago, he layered the instruments to achieve the rich, orchestral effect. Now he's reproducing the studio sound with 12 other brilliant musicians who play alongside him onstage. This two CD/DVD set captures a good deal of the quality, excitement and magic we felt that day at Wembley Stadium.
There were some extremely clever edits in this video. Jeff actually missed his cue for the first line of "Livin' Thing" but from this concert record, you'd never know it. Conversely, he didn't overdub the last line of the second verse of "Do Ya," leaving it charmingly raw.
I was close enough to see his face at the concert, but this video picked up so many special moments between the band members. This was obviously a momentous occasion for them, and they poured their heart and soul into the concert. I caught a momentary glimpse of myself in the audience.
I will treasure the experience as well as this boxed set for the rest of my days.
The sound is great, though the usual vocal drop-out can rarely be heard as Jeff wanders too far from the mike.
The band is spectacularly good. And I mean that. Four guitarists, three keyboard players two cellists, a blisteringly good violinist who should have gotten more solo time especially in the encore, a bass player, two backup vocalists (one of whom occasionally gets lead vocal and plays guitar), and of course a stunningly good drummer.
The set list ranges from the first ELO song to hit the airwaves (the 10538 Overture) to "When I was a Boy" from the (to me disappointing) Alone in the Universe. In between you get large helpings of favorites from A New World Record, Out of the Blue, Discovery, Time and Xanadu (which I now realize I need to add to my collection yesterday).
Over two and a half hours of live music drawing on a really great catalogue and played by expert musicians who are enjoying the hell out of the experience. It really doesn't get any better than that. Whatever the genre, good material played by people who know how and who enjoy doing so is the essence of a great audience experience. Fairport Convention does this every time I see them, and now I know ELO does too.
The concert was held in Wembley Stadium to a packed and enthusiastic crowd. I wish I had been there.
The packaging is a bit over the top, with an oversized four-panel gatefold sleeve of the "digipak" type. Nice ELO-standard artwork inside. Pockets are a bit tight, making digging out the discs a bit tedious.
Two CDs with themed labels. A booklet of color photos from the event, mostly (it has to be said) of Jeff Lynne. I would have liked a bit of text in here, maybe a short paragraph from each of the players on their reactions to being part of it all. As it is it sort of feels like a Jeff Lynne strokebook.
The last pocket holds the hidden gem, the DVD of the concert, which contains the entire set list from the CDs filmed as they happened. There's a bit of commentary, but mostly just the band doing what they came to do.
The big screens around the stage did the same crappy job they did during the Police reunion tour, which is to say that some solos got played by other members of the band while the cameras filmed Sting, sorry, Jeff standing and waiting for his next bit. C'mon guys, no-one is going to swear off Jeff Lynne if you don't show his face while someone else is knocking out a spectacular solo. I mean, we've been here for, what, 47 years (some of us).
And the stage set itself was both evocative of the over-the-top Out-of-the-Blue set with its 1:1 scale model of a Flying Saucer and a state of the art extravaganza of giant display screens, lasers, computer-controlled swivel spots and pyrotechnics. Magnificent.
The bass player nailed it in a comment during the movie when he said that there is nothing to be ashamed of in being able to write really memorable pop music, which is what Jeff Lynne does and did for years. I hate disco (unless it's by the ELO). Hey, that could be the hook of a song ...
What a concert!
If you liked the original ELO sound and songs, you will love this CD. Plus you get a live version of Jeff Lynne's Traveling Wilburys song Handle With Care. The 2 cds total a time of just over 90 minutes, while the included DVD runs just under 2 hours. I think all the songs are included on both the cds and the DVD with the DVD including some interview segments that show the incredible attention to detail the Lynne requests and requires of his backup band. Their harmonies are incredible.
Don't like ELO, too bad, I won't question your taste in music - but if you like good music with lots of harmonies, melodies and sometimes interesting lyrics, this is for you.