Sun is shinin’ in the sky. 
There ain’t a cloud in sight. 
It’s stopped rainin’,  everybody’s in the play 
and don’t you know 
it’s a beautiful new day,  hey! hey! 

Words familiar All Over the World, but the faces here are a little different. That’s because this band is a tribute; a tribute to the wonderful sound of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra

ELO Encounter—The Crescent Theatre Birmingham—16 September 2022

I have previously said that I only do tributes when the real thing is not around anymore, but although you can get Jeff Lynne’s ELO (at exorbitant prices) when he tours, the chance for a little Blue Sky at short notice was too good to pass up. 

Formed several years ago by the Lownes Brothers, The ELO Encounter give you just that. Not simply a performance of numbers, but encountering the original band with a loving feel as if this were them on stage. Straight into the opening of Standin’ in the Rain, I was transported back to 1978 and listening to side three of Out of the Blue on vinyl. Then came hit after hit: Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Turn to Stone, Shine a Little Love, Hold on Tight, Horace Wimp, Telephone Line, and many, many more. I was hooked, as were the rest of the audience in this wonderful experience of time-travel. We even had an appearance of one the earliest ELO hits in 10538 Overture … brilliant.

ELO Encounter—The Crescent Theatre Birmingham—16 September 2022

The band is led by Jack Rownes on keyboards and vocals, taking the Jeff Lynne role with a delivery so like the man himself, close your eyes and it’s real. Then you have younger brother, Harry Rownes on Bass, but also supporting vocals, as do the entire band. However, Harry has the added task of replicating the awesome (and too soon departed) voice of Kelly Groucutt, particularly on Rockaria! Lead guitars are provided by Martin Donald with Dacre Peck on drums. On Violin we had Jasmine Ali who also delivered lead vocals on Xanadu, one the best numbers of the night. Rounding off the band was newest member on acoustic guitars, Karl Younger.

The show was split into two sets ending with an encore of ELO’s biggest hit, Mr Blue Sky. By now, everyone was long on their feet and ELO Encounter departed to a massive flow of applause. It was nice to see some of the band in the foyer afterwards to thank the audience. A nice touch and familiarity which goes down well.

ELO Encounter are touring the UK throughout the remainder of 2022 and all next year. There are alternative tributes to ELO, but these have my recommendation. Look no further if you’re thinking of seeing one. 

ELO Encounter—The Crescent Theatre Birmingham—16 September 2022


Antony N Britt