by JR Eaton

The posters and flyers hanging around Cleveland said it all;

“Once in a lifetime there comes a night so big it eclipses everything that came before it”

Electric Light Orchestra brought “The Big Night” and the spaceship to Cleveland Municipal Stadium July 15, 1978.  At $11 in advance and $13 day of show, fans were also treated to openers Foreigner at the top of their game, Journey’s first tour with Steve Perry and Phil Bate’s Trickster, future lead of ELO Part II.

For the uninitiated,  The World Series of Rock was a day long, multi-act summer rock concert series held at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, home of The Indians and Browns.  Belkin Productions staged the general admission event from 1974 through 1980.  These shows were notorious for not only their arena rock spectacles but also the huge, rowdy crowds sometimes reaching up to 88,000 people.

Kicking the summer show off was Trickster.  Trickster was formed in the mid 70’s by Phil Bates. After a few releases including Find The Lady and Back To Zero they enjoyed minor chart success with the singles ‘If That’s The Way The Feeling Takes You’ and ‘I’m Satisfied’.  They were officially “introduced” to Cleveland at this show by being featured on the whole of ELO’s groundbreaking and spectacular ‘1978 Spaceship’ world tour.  Bates went on to become the lead guitarist, songwriter and joint lead vocalist for ELO Part II from 1993 to 1999.

Next up was Journey, on their first tour with Steve Perry! Perry joined the band in late ’77, after lead vocalist Robert Fleischman left.  Fleischmann left after being hired during their transition period to a more popular sound akin to Foreigner and Boston.  Journey went on to release their fourth album Infinity in January 1978, which reached #21 on the album charts and became the bands first platinum album.  Infinity includes the hits ‘Lights’ and the Fleischman penned ‘Wheel In The Sky’.

Mick Jones and co. took the stage next.  Foreigner released their debut album, Foreigner, in March 1977 and sold more than four million copies in the U.S., staying in the Top 20 for a year. The album includes would be classics ‘Feels Like The First Time’, ‘Cold As Ice’ and ‘Long,Long Way From Home’.  Throughout ’77, the group started headlining theaters and eventually small arenas, while earning a gold record.  How do you top that? By following it up with an even bigger success.  In June 1978, a month before the Cleveland show, Foreigner released Double Vision, including even more would be classic mainstays ‘Hot Blooded’, ‘Double Vision’ and ‘Blue Morning, Blue Day”.

Ending the night was “The English guys with the big fiddles”,  British rock and pop group Electric Light Orchestra.  ELO was initially more successful in the U.S. than the U.K.,  and was reaching the height of their U.S. success during the 70’s, filling arenas regularly with their amazing laser shows and making numerous television appearances.  The late Casey Kasem dubbed them “The world’s first touring rock n roll chamber group”.  After the massive success of 1977’s double LP Out Of The Blue, ELO set out on a nine month, 92 date world tour with an enormous set and a huge expensive spaceship stage complete with a state of the art laser show and fog machines.  In the U.S., the concerts were billed as “The Big Night” and were the group’s largest venues to date,  topping it all off at this Cleveland World Series of Rock with 80,000 plus.  ELO’s “The Big Night” (the spaceship tour) became the highest grossing live concert tour in music history up to that point.

Electric Light Orchestra Set List July 15, 1975 at Cleveland Stadium.

1) ‘Standin’ in the Rain’
2) ‘Night in the City’
3) ‘Turn to Stone’
4)’ Can’t Get It Out of My Head’
5) Cello Solo
6) ‘Tightrope’
7) ‘Telephone Line’
8) ‘Rockaria!’
9) Violin Solo
10) ‘Strange Magic’
11) ‘Showdown’
12) ‘Sweet Talkin’ Woman’
13)’ Evil Woman’
14) ‘Mr. Blue Sky’
15) ‘Do Ya’ (The Move cover)
16) ‘Livin’ Thing’
17) ‘Ma-Ma-Ma Belle’
18) ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ (Chuck Berry cover)




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