1 September 2004
Colorado State Fair, Pueblo, CO
Have you never been mellow? Well, maybe not this mellow--man, this concert rivaled the David Gates show I saw a couple years ago. Olivia Newton-John made Glen Campbell and John Denver seem like Van Halen.
But, so what?
The show actually began with an instrumental medley of her famous hits, and a ghost vocal of "Maybe I hang around here a little more than I should". Then, the star of the show walked out in a bright candy-apple red jacket/pants combo, and began vocalizing a song that, no kidding, my 6th grade chorus class sang, "Have You Never Been Mellow?"
Olivia is famous for her track contributions to two movies. Tonight early in the set she performed "Magic", "Suddenly", and the title track from Xanadu.
For the cliche' acoustic interlude, Olivia and her seven bandmates joined her for some gospellized versions of "Let Me Be There", "Please Mr. Please", "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)", and, get this, her famous, best-selling song in all of 1982, "Physical"!
O.N.J., as the press-kit calls her, grabbed many a swig of tea and water in the dry, high-altitude Colorado air of this concert evening. Each time she took a sip, she expressed her "Cheers!"
I would best describe this performance as very much like night-club music, in the sense that the combination of the coctail-ish electric piano, her tin-pan-alley crooning, and the intimacy she offered to the crowd, made the audience feel like we were enjoying a relaxing evening at a hotel bar.
Additionally, Olivia has recorded a new album of mostly tin-pan-alley covers. Of the ones she showcased this evening, all of them demonstrated that she can interpret a song, and hit the vocal marks, as good as anyone.....anyone.
Other songs in tonight's setlist: "Make A Move On Me", "Heart Attack", and a video-accompanied song about the rainforest, called "Don't Cut Me Down (For I am Innocent)". Notably missing from the setlist: "Come On Over", "A Little More Love" and the George Harrison-penned "If Not For You".
To end the set, she and the rest of the band donned leather or silk jackets to dance to the Grease classics, "You're The One That I Want", "Hopelessly Devoted To You", and "Summer Nights".
"I Honestly Love You" was the most fitting encore. I have to admit that I cracked up during the beginning of the song, because, as the crowd was eerily quiet, and the arena filled with the first two (2) piano notes of the introduction of the song, a patron about 15 feet away from us yelled out a VERY loud, "YES!!!".
I will always hold in high regard those who have the courage to survive cancer. Olivia fought this vicious disease about 12 years ago, and I have to say that today she visually shines with unmatched wonder, and sounds as great as ever. O.N.J. still has a most engaging smile, a fantastic range, and an enduringly strong vocal cords.
[****] - Steven T.
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