Jeff Lynne’s ELO Live in Hyde Park DVD/blu-ray revels at an intersection of greatest hits album and glorious concert performance. Drawn from a September 2014 headlining show at BBC Radio 2’s “Festival in a Day,” the famed songwriter and producer and his electric light orchestra are joined by the BBC’s Concert Orchestra on a 16-song set that finds nearly every word sung in unison with the 50,000 in attendance. Both sonically and visually, it’s quite an entertaining and deserving place in the limelight that enables the group’s mid-‘70s heyday to seem not so long ago.
ELO’s catalog is one that despite selling tens of millions of records worldwide still has a way of surprising, sometimes requiring pause to fathom all these jewels coming from the same band. Every song remains a staple of classic rock and pop radio, from “Evil Woman” to “Don’t Bring Me Down” to “Livin’ Thing,”- Lynne even nods to his former all-star troupe The Traveling Wilburys, offering “Handle Me With Care.” His 10-piece ensemble strikes each note with a commemorative sense of fun and humility; Lynne often introducing a number as an old one the audience may know. Of course, they do. Yet, this isn’t coy artifice on Lynne’s part, nor is it self-congratulatory, feeling instead sunny, joyous, and appreciative.
Lynne’s falsetto still gets to his trademark upper register confidently, and his band- featuring ELO stalwart Richard Tandy on keyboards and a bevy of fresh faces- reverently stays true to the original arrangements. Of note is both the audio mix engineered by Steve Jay, who’s worked previously with the group, and the visual directing. Jay does a standout job of balancing the multitude of musicians onstage for a sound that Lynne notes in the liner is exactly as it was on that keepsake night. As a viewing experience, there is just enough use of long and wide shots to imply the magnitude and enthusiasm of the massive adoring crowd, yet for the most part stays locked on Lynne, with fitting doses of his accompanying players.
The homecoming of Jeff Lynne’s ELO before the throngs of London stuffed into Hyde Park is a show worthy of the ardent fan and the casual observer. Bonus material features a well-done documentary of the band as well as new interviews, but the real star is the performance itself. It’s both a reminder of and a coronation for Lynne and ELO as one of the elite musical acts of the last 40 years.