Jeff Lynne led members of his touring band through a joyous performance of Electric Light Orchestra‘s “Evil Woman” and “Mr. Blue Sky” at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Friday night during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Though former Electric Light Orchestra members Roy Wood, Richard Tandy and Bev Bevan were also inducted into the Rock Hall with Lynne, they did not perform on Friday.
“Evil Woman” was a gleeful romp from start to finish, full of hammering piano and ecstatically accusatory backing vocals. A three-piece string section accompanied Jeff Lynne’s ELO, heightening the dramatic swoops and dips of the song’s chorus.
The strings were even more essential during “Mr. Blue Sky,” offering a playful, twirling counterpoint to the bullish, no-nonsense keyboard riff that charged through almost the entire track. Lynne and his backup singers rose to meet the string players, coasting into multi-part vocal arrangements, and the song ended in a pleasant cloud of harmony and vocoder.
Dhani Harrison, son of George and Olivia Harrison, was on hand to induct members of ELO into the Rock Hall. Lynne collaborated several times with George Harrison, helping to produce the former Beatle’s Cloud Nine album and joining him in the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. Lynne worked with Dhani to finish Harrison’s posthumously released final album, Brainwashed, which came out in 2002.
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Dhani welcomed Lynne, whom he described as “ELO’s extraterrestrial wizard captain,” into the Rock Hall along with Wood, who co-founded ELO but left early in the group’s career. Tandy – who played with the group until 1986 and has been performing with Lynne again recently – and Bevan were also inducted, but they did not attend the ceremony.
Lynne’s relationship with Bevan has been fractious in recent decades. In 1989, while Lynne was enjoying his association with the Wilburys, Bevan put together a group called ELO Part II, leading to a series of legal disputes with Lynne related to name rights. In 2015, Lynne said he hadn’t spoken with Bevan in years.
In an interview with Rolling Stone last December, Bevan suggested the Rock Hall induction might be a good time to bury the hatchet with his old bandmate. “I think I’m certainly at an age now where I don’t want to bear grudges or have enemies,” he said. “I just want to make friends.”
Even if I just got up and played one song [with Lynne] or played tambourine or something, I don’t care,” Bevan added. “But it would be nice to join in.”