THE UK’s top tribute band dedicated to the music of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra – The ELO Experience – are heading to town tomorrow. And, writes Martin Hutchinson, there is a celebration in store

October 2017 sees the 40th anniversary of the double-album Out Of The Blue, arguably ELO’s best album, and the band is planning to perform a fair amount of the album.

The tribute band, formed in Hull over a decade ago, have been building up their fan-base with excellent reproductions of the very best of the iconic Birmingham band.

In 2012, they were names Britain’s best tribute band and have gone from strength to strength with great musicians and superb backdrops and animations (their Lego version of The Diary Of Horace Wimp – a song that the original ELO never performed live – is very clever).

They even have their own version of the famous ‘flying saucer’.

But the band had a glitch earlier this year, as founder-member and singer Jeff Lynne – sorry – Andy Louis, tells me.

“I’d been playing squash over Christmas and afterwards felt very uncomfortable. At first I thought I’d been overdoing it, but when it happened again I had it checked out.”

“It turned out that I’d had a heart attack, so I went in and had a procedure where the doctors inserted three stents into some major arteries.”

The upshot was that the band had to postpone some dates.

“Yes, I had to take six weeks off, and even though I’m not yet fully recovered I’m okay to do what I do.”

The band returned to the stage with gigs in Burnley and Chesterfield.

“Those shows went well,” Andy says. “We have put some new songs in which went great, but I was aching afterwards.”

The tour this year is entitled Back To The Blue, and is the band’s homage to the Out Of The Blue album, which contains ELO classics like Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Wild West Hero, Turn To Stone and the anthemic Mr Blue Sky.

Andy, a lifelong ELO fan, says that it was ELO that got him into wanting to perform the band's music.

“Yes, it was the album Discovery (the album that followed Out Of The Blue). The album is the reason I got into wanting to do ELO music," he says.

“Everybody has a favourite album, one that was an integral part of their teenage years, and that was mine.”

The band covers the whole of ELO’s career, and sometimes include a Travelling Wilbury song (the band Lynne formed with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison), they even do When I Was A Boy from the latest ELO album.

But Andy has always had the ambition to perform the whole of the Out Of The Blue album.

“Some of the tracks, like the instrumental The Whale may not appeal to the audience, but for this year we’ve got 11 songs from the album in the set.”

“Standing In The Rain is in, it’s a really great track, but not Big Wheels.”

“Jeff wrote some great slow ballads,” Andy explains, “but we like to go for the more upbeat songs – especially in the second half of the show.”

“We’ve also introduced Steppin’ Out as Jeff performs it these days, and Night In The City I we’ve never done them before.”

“We’re still ironing things out in some of the new songs, but we have them in a format that we can play live.”

But the band will still play the hits.

“Of course,” Andy smiles. “You can’t leave the greatest hits out as most of the audience come for those.”

It is a show where the audience really join in, dancing and singing along.

“Yes, and it’s great to see.” Andy tells me.

“People know what they’re coming to see and we do what we call and ‘umbrella’ show and try to do a balance of songs. Those that will appeal to everyone, and some that will appeal to the die-hard ELO fans.”

“The thing is that we always play songs that we like, which is mainly the catchy and popular songs.”

Ever the ELO fan, there are some songs that Andy would like to play.

“Yeah, there’s always songs I’d love to do, for instance So Fine from the A New World Record album. But it’s what to leave out to make way for it that’s the problem.”

  • The ELO Experience will be appearing at the New Theatre, Oxford, tomorrow (June 9)
  • Tickets from