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Shepherd's Bush Empire, 23 May 2006

Or Orchestra or any other concoction of names that doesn't use ELO solely in the band title! It may not feature Jeff Lynne but his influence is felt not only in the songs but the fact that he owns the name.

From ELO in the 1970's you've got Kelly Groucutt, Mik Kaminski and strings arranger Louis Clark plus founder member of ELP Part 2 Eric Troyer (ex-Meat Loaf/Billy Joel). Joining these four are guitarist/vocalist Parthenon Huxley and drummer Gordan Townsend. So you've got members from all eras of ELO's colourful history bar any true original member!

But before the band take to the stage singer/songwriter Don Howard does a decent set of original material with some covers including the Beatles 'Get Back' which finds favour with the crowd.

Orchestra (it is easier to call them this!) play a set cram full of ELO classics including 'Mr Blue Sky', 'Turn to Stone', 'Telephone Line', 'Ma Ma Belle' and 'Wild West Hero' to name but a few.

Groucutt, Troyer and Huxley all share lead vocals across the set list and a few rarely heard tunes get an airing including a wonderful 'Ticket to the Moon'. The band are very tight and know their stuff (although Louis Clark seems underemployed often standing by his string synth not playing at all).

They play a few numbers of the Orchestra's latest album, 'No Rewind', which is very hard to get in any shops and even these go down well but nothing like the ELO classics.

It is a near sell out crowd as well just proving that ELO's music is back in demand especially after the success of last year's 'Greatest Hits' compilation both here and in the US.

Closing the night with 'Last Train to London' and 'Don't Bring Me Down' bought to an end a night of great, timeless music. Go and see this band as they are keeping the sound of ELO live in the concert halls.

If only Jeff Lynne would reunite with the classic 70's line-up - that would easily sell out Wembley Arena and get the 'Out of the Blue' spaceship stage show back as well. Ah well, I can but dream!

Review by Jason Ritchie

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