I’m the one on the left, in Singapore 1971, just before I saw a musical with spaceships in swinging London and a young Australian lead-singer in it:)
Olivia Newton-John Live in Bournemouth March 11th 2013
Olivia and I went our separate musical ways about 30 years ago, and Glee and the odd UK interview visit apart, it’s mostly been “Grease” that’s kept her popping up over the decades into the forefront of the mind. I was a Livvie lover though when I was a teenager, for a good 10 years or so, so I thought I’d take a punt as she’d been good enough to drop by Bournemouth (and boo hiss to those who stayed away thanks to the arctic weather, it wasn‘t by any means a full house!). Good call! She was fab-u-lous. I had no expectations, as I didn’t realise she’d been touring extensively for some time, but I think it’s fair to say it was polished, spot-on, entertaining, nostalgic, and impressive.
Cards-on-table I first found Olivia in 1971 in a movie shown in RAF Swinderby‘s cinema: “Toomorrow” a sci-fi musical with groovy songs in space, and Olivia was charming. I loved the reference though when Olivia asked the audience if they knew which musical she was about to do a song from, some wag shouted “Toomorrow!” – ah if only she had done a track, but she saw the funny sideJ
Apart from me and my minority interest though, Olivia covered all parts of her musical life, early days, country days, folkie days, ballad days, pop days, Grease-days, Xanadu-days, Physical-days, Gaia-days, Charity-days, she didn’t miss anything out, not even Eurovision (when she had the misfortune to come up against the immortal Abba) which brought a right old grin onto my face, I really must download that fab slice of cheese…I may not be familiar with her recent stuff, most of it self-composed, but honestly, there was no filler. If I had a petty preference it would been to drop Jolene in favour of the lovely album track Winterwood. The crowd may have loved, obviously, Grease and Physical, and Xanadu best but I tended to prefer the earlier stuff, my first Olivia purchase “Have You Never Been Mellow”, and her best ballads (Dylan, Harrison, Denver and songs like Sam).
As for Olivia and her band and backing /co-singers: They were great. The sound was great. The singing? Well, apart from a frog-in-the-throat moment (Olivia stopped A Little More Love to take a sip and start again – bonus! We got to hear it twice) I was very impressed. I’ve always loved her singing voice, but had no idea she had such a great range: for instance when she did early -career-song Cry Me A River she really interpreted it beautifully, her voice has a mature quality to it now, she could easily do an album of standards justice. OK, I’d kind of like to see her shock everyone and do a Guetta or will.I.am guest vocal (she could handle it!) but that would be a more logical move.
OK, I’m about to do indulge myself and list my fave tracks of the night, but one more batch of compliments to go first! I’ve been to hundreds of live concerts, so kudos where it’s due, Olivia is still charming, engaging, witty, and thankfully still has Aussie-girl-next-door likeable appeal. I loved that she addressed the audience constantly, involved us, and spoke of her work for cancer charity and conservation with sincerity (all of which I whole-heartedly endorse), was spot-on-time onto the stage and did away with the now obligatory encore cliché. It wasn’t needed, the show was varied, professional and constructed just right.
I hope that’s not too gushing! I certainly wasn’t expecting to gush. Hooray, and thanks Olivia, come back again I’ll be there!
1. Hopelessly Devoted To You
3. Have You Never Been Mellow
6. A Little More Love
7. If Not For You
8. We Go Together
9. Cry Me A River
11. What Is Life
12. Long Live Love
13. I Honestly Love You
14. Summer Nights
16. Banks Of The Ohio
17. Please Mr Please
18. Make A Move On Me
19. You’re The One That I Want
20. Take Me Home Country Roads