by Christopher A. Landt Las Cruces, NM USA It was like any other Monday morning. The coffee tasted of an unwashed pot, computers were broken all over the place, people in a fevered panic, and me frolicking through my ELO mail list and the alt.music.elo news group without a care in the world. Who new that in less than 36 hours my life would be drastically changed. In the back of my mind I mentally sorted the weeks tasks as I slowly, ever so slowly, went through the notes from ELO fans throughout the world just like I do every Monday. "Hey, what's this I said out loud." as I quickly looked up from my slacking to make sure nobody witnessed my surprise. "ELO in Tennessee, COOL!" Then a thought went through my body like the electric power of a great ELO song, "I wonder if they will be anywhere near Las Cruces, New Mexico." Faster than my credit card number being given to the guy at Vinyl Vendors I slapped a quick message to the mail list for speculation of an ELO concert schedule. Embarrassment number two hit me when I went to the next message a few moments later and saw that good ol' Steve had taken care of my request before I had even asked. My heart sped up when my eyes got to the line that said Tempe Arizona. "Wow, Phoenix is just 6 hours to drive, easy!" Or I thought, "damn, the concert is tomorrow night!" At that point I began to blow it off. There would be no way I could pull that off. Beginning of the week, lots of work to do, impossible. I called a co-worker, also an ELO fan, and joked about the bad timing. You can imagine my surprise when she said, "Hey, no problem we can make that!" Now my heart stopped and for one second I actually thought about ditching it all and going to Tempe. Since the drive would be out of the question, maybe we could fly. Airplanes, hotels, rental cars, Concert tickets. No way, not at the last minute, but I had to at least try. A quick call to directory assistance netted a phone number to the Red River Opry. A second call secured the knowledge that tickets were still available. In my panic I forgot to ask if the date was correct. Luckily it was. All of a sudden I had this large doubt about the whole thing and thought that this could not possibly be happening. A third phone call to my favorite travel agent, Mom, guaranteed me Airplane tickets, hotel reservation, and a rental car. "Man, my credit card would be smokin' this week," I though to myself. This is where things got strange. Mom picked up the airfare, and my friend that I was talking about earlier, picked up the rest. There is a God! A fourth, fifth, nervous sixth, and panicked seventh call the The Red River Opry secured two fifth row tickets. The poor lady at the ticket office was prepared to call 911 and get me a free ride to the farm after all of those calls. She finally said "Hey, ELO is coming, just deal with it!" Now I know, God loves Electric Light Orchestra. I'm not a religious man, but hey my knees hit the floor. A quick shuffle of paper and my vacation time was secured, funny now that I look back at it. My supervisor had taken the day off and I freely assumed I could go. Yeah, like she was going to stop me. I glanced up at the clock and noticed that this had all been done by 1:00 p.m. I'm going to ELO! The plane was scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Tuesday. Leave my office at 3:00 p.m., an hour drive to the airport an hour wait, and hour flight, an hour back because of that wacky time zone thing. Why does your bodily functions go crazy at these times? I almost wet myself four times. On with the saga, We should arrive in Tempe by 5:30. I know the math doesn't work here, but go with me on this. We checked into the hotel, not a room in the city, luckily we had reservations. I barely noticed the 113 degree heat as I set off after my goal, "Find the Red River Opry, and find it now!" Okay the liquid steering wheel was hard to miss but hey. Fifteen minutes later my dreams were realized as the ticket lady handed us our passes. Oh my god, yes! This is really happening. One side note: I have never seen ELO live. I was too young and lived too far away to get the chance. My life's goal was to go, but then in the late 80's they broke up. I thought my dream had died, but it hadn't, I was getting it now with a vengeance! Okay, so I have rambled on a bit. But you have to admit, it's not every day you drop everything and fly 600 miles just for a concert with less than 36 hours of planning. Now that I look back, I think all of those computers back at work are still broken, OOPS! The Concert The Red River Opry is a very nice place. Sort of a large movie theater look to it. Concessions, UMMM Beeeeerrrrrrr, Radio people all over, gift counter, OH MY GOD, "That's the ONE NIGHT CD!" YESSSSSSSS! OH MY GOD YES! But I digress, things were way out of control at this point, but I was lovin' it. The Opry was an excelent site for an ELO concert. All of the employees were very nice, and there was a strange magic in the air. I took my seat and prepared for the event of my life. The opening act was a great comic. If you were there you would understand. He fixed up two loud mouth people in the audience, asked a few people to kiss his wet ass he was laughing at the "Dry Heat" comments people make about Phoenix, and gave a 10 year old girl sitting two seats away from me a few choice questions for her father, sitting next to me. "Why can't he breath daddy?" "I'll explain later, 10 years later!" He replied following it with a clap of the hands in one smooth movement (clap, clap) You had to be there. Just a sec, I need to put in CD 2 of "One Night" Oh yeah, That's better. Damn this CD is great, they are better in person, but that's what I am trying to get to. Then it Began. Ladies and gentlemen... The Electric Light Orchestra Part Two Phil comes out playing the beginning riff to Ma-Ma-Ma belle, as the rest of the guys follow. Pre-recorded or not, it was way cool. The crowd goes crazy at this point. Okay, so it was mostly me, but what can I say. They segued perfectly into Don't Wanna', then into Mr. Blue sky, the 10538 Overture, and then Perfectly slipped into Fire On High. Man oh man, can Phil do that acoustic solo well! At this point I was in heaven. There I was staring up at Mik, Kelly, Bev, Louis, Phil and Eric. This is basically ELO here. They sound better then they have ever sounded. This tour is a must. You can really feel Bev's drums like they were meant to be felt. Then all of a sudden I realized that I was really out of the loop here. Kelly is clean shaven, head as well except for a pony tail. Bev has a mustache and beard, and Mik hasn't changed a bit. I guess I should have been keeping up with the members as well as the music. Basically the concert was a hard rocking ride to ecstasy only interrupted by a few short introductions and thanks. Bev got up and thank the crowd, His words almost exactly was that they liked to tour in Arizona the best because of the fans. Now I agree he probably says that everywhere, but they had done three concert very close, Tempe, Flagstaff, and Las Vegas, all in four days. ----- Here is a list of all of the songs and in order they were played. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle Don't Wanna' Mr. Blue Sky 10538 Overture Fire On High All Over The World Wild West Hero Thousand Eyes Hold On Tight Turn To Stone Ain't Necessarily So Standin' In The Rain Telephone Line Showdown Whiskey Girls Can't Get It Out Of My Head Calling America Evil Woman (Bev introduces the band and such) Livin' Thing Sweet Talkin' Woman Confusion Do Ya Rockaria! Encore: Rock 'N' Roll Is King Bev Drum Solo Don't Bring Me Down (Wild jamming on last tune with out-of-control audience partcipation...) WAY COOL! ------ Old ELO, New Part II, combined with Xanadu cuts made for a perfect mix of the Best of the Best ELO that could possibly be compiled. A flawless concert. Songs from almost every album were included, "On The Third Day" "Out Of The Blue" "Discovery" "Time" "Secret Messages", Hell even "Balance of Power" as well as "Xanadu" and their own releases. The sound was perfect, voices were perfect, the concert was the greatest thing I had ever experienced. If they did not record that show it would be a shame. The Red River Opry was a perfect site. The acoustics were superb. I am not exagerating in any way here. Ask anyone that went, it was fantastic. If you were in the neighborhood and did not go, you missed out! The Audience was casual at first, then slowly slipped into their wild side. The Opry has seats bolted to the floor, but that did not stop the packed room to get up and feel the music, dance, and basically go crazy. A five minute standing ovation by everyone in the house brought the band back for three more cuts, "Rock 'n' Roll is King," a classic Bev Drum Solo, and an outrageous free-for-all audience rendition of "Don't Bring Me Down." I still can't speak very well, my voice is gone! The encore seemed to last forever. Kelly was really getting the audience crazy as we all made four attempts to sing the chorus and as loud as possible. The first three times Kelly seemed disappointed about our performance. That did not stop this audience from trying. The fourth time was LOUD, I mean very loud. Kelly was so impressed he yelled out "Bloody Marvelous!" And then it was over as quickly as it started. My saga had come almost full circle. But this is not where this story ends. On a hint from Steve of "LIGHT" the ELO Fan Club here in North America, I played a hunch and stayed in my seat while the rest of the crowd left. About 30 to 40 of us stayed hoping for the best. Then all of a sudden a roady came out and said the band would be out in five minutes. COOL! All six of them came out. Eric asked us all why we were their "The concerts over!" he said jokingly. We all lined up against the stage and the band made there way to each and every one of us. I really think highly of these guys. They made sure not a person was missed. They took out their time to personally talk to each and every one of us. These guys really care about their fans. I found out, for the first time, that Eric is an American from Indiana. Wild! I also got to joke around with Kelly about his missing mustache and bald head. He said that when his hair started to go the trademark mustache made him look like he was standing on his head, Off it came! Kelly is quite a sport. We joked about the band, new and old, and shared some personal notes with each other. I will remember him especially for that reason. Louis was very quiet, and you could tell that Bev was tired. Phil, sporting his "Blackbeard the Pirate" look, laughed with us as well, as Eric stood back talking about home, being with the group, and holding a beer as he smiled. I thanked them all for a life time of hope and great music. Said hello from all of us on the ELO Lists, smiled and turned to leave. The perfect day, the perfect concert, and the nicest guys. This was it. I had reached nirvana. There is nothing left for me to do but look at my newly acquired, autographed "One Night" CD, smile and prepare for the plane trip home.