–by Randy Thompson
–photos by Sean Derrick/Thyrd Eye Photography
Sometimes, when you close your eyes and listen to a great rock song, you can relive a moment from your past.
ELO has been an integral part of the rock and roll scene for over fifty years. Friday night in Edwardsville, Illinois we saw Mister Blue Sky, an ELO tribute band that brought back the true essence of what that music means. Listening to songs like “Evil Woman”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, and “Fire on High” live at the Wildey was magical.
Mister Blue Sky is composed of Jeff Lynne look alike, sound alike Jeff Faulkner. He is backed up by guitarist Dave Watkins, bassist Ben Moyer, keyboardists Charlie Brown and Stephen Winter, and drummer Steve Bunck. The addition of cellist Jake Brookman and violinists Abby Stahlschmidt and Jessie Youngblood (though Abbie Steiling filled in aptly for Jessie this weekend) as well as vocalist Anastasia Hamilton gives the band a full symphonic sound on stage that replicates what was produced in a studio by ELO. The strings and two keyboards gave the pieces an orchestral sound that filled the theatre in an extraordinary way. Each of the band members individual talents were obvious and impressive and were matched only by the sheer energy and passion with which they presented the music.
MBS had the audience involved, clapping, and singing along from the very first notes. It is a very tight band that synthesizes ELO’s greatest hits to form a lush and powerful sound that not only reproduces the music but gives it a special power and energy that is their own.
This band guided us through both the rock n’ roll, like “Rockaria!” and symphonic songs like, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” of ELO equally, both musically as well as visually through the use of movie clips during “All Over the World”, animation and music videos “Calling America”. They even played “End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys.
This is a group of musicians from the St. Louis area who have come together to present their music to a grateful audience, and they have been nominated by St. Louis Magazine to be the St. Louis area’s number one cover band, be sure to vote for them by the 10th! They are a group of musicians dedicated to the band that they are giving tribute to, but they are also exceptional entertainers who had the audience under their spell for the entire performance. They finished the night with an encore of three songs: “Fire on High”, “Roll Over Beethoven” (by fellow St. Louis native, Chuck Berry) and last of all,”Mr. Blue Sky”. They also came out to meet their fans after the show, an approach that makes their local ties even more evident.
Mr. Blue Sky Setlist
Sweet Talking Woman
All Over the World
Shine a Little Love
End of the Line (Traveling Wilburys cover)
Wild West Hero
Don’t Bring Me Down
Ma Ma Belle
Last Train out of London
Can’t Get It Out of My Head
Hold on Tight
Diary of Horace
Turn to Stone
Fire on High
Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry cover)
Mr. Blue Sky