It’s one of pop’s great mysteries: why did it take so long for the unassumingly Godlike Jeff Lynne to receive critical rehabilitation? Fellow 1970s pop behemoths ABBA and The Carpenters, both once considered the apogee of naff by cloth-eared rock snobs, were belatedly elevated to their rightful place in the sanctified canon during the 1990s. Yet only of late have Lynne and his multi-million-selling Electric Light Orchestra been widely lauded as dazzling pop deities.
Hydro, Glasgow ****
Perhaps enough time and context have passed to render those initial, knee-jerk criticisms – that they were little more than superficial Beatles copyists, basically – utterly meaningless. All that’s left are those incredible songs and Lynne’s reputation as a master classicist with an endearingly eccentric bent.
They were always massively popular among the switched-on record-buying public, of course. This rapturously received sold-out arena show testified to their enduring popularity. The self-effacing Lynne, still reassuringly hidden behind that defiantly uncool aviator shades, beard and soggy afro disguise, led his string-laden band (the other original ELO members now tour opportunistically without him) through a relentlessly joyous set of crowd-pleasing classics.
Their obvious influence on the likes of Daft Punk was borne out by glittery robot disco stormers such as Last Train to London, Don’t Bring Me Down and All Over the World.
Charmingly animated sci-fi visuals and arena-rock lasers helped to elevate Evil Woman, Shine a Little Love and the inevitable Mr Blue Sky into the stratosphere.
Jeff Lynne is a genius. Are we all agreed on that now?