Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Olivia Newton-John Live in Manila: Timeless Voice and Beauty

March 31, 2012

Olivia Newton-John is a pop superstar in the 70s and early 80s.  Her distinctive voice had brought several songs to the top of the charts.  This was indeed a concert event as this was unbelievably only Olivia's first visit to Manila!  There were conflicting family plans which made watching this concert an uncertainty until I finally decided that it should not be missed.

Upon entering the doors of the auditorium past 8:30 pm already, Olivia was already singing "Xanadu".  She then followed it up with a number 1 song "Magic."  She then segued to "Suddenly" which she sang as a duet with one of her back-up singers taking the Cliff Richard parts.  I asked the woman behind me if many songs had already been sung and she said yes.  I just wonder how many songs I had missed.  However, I cannot believe how good and svelte Ms. Newton-John looked.  And more so, her mellow voice was as pristine as ever, like she never aged at all.

She then related that she started in London as a country singer.  She sat down on stools with her band and back-up singers to sing country songs which she had recorded.  Incredibly, some members of the audience were also familiar with these and were singing along. She sang "If Not For You," "Let Me Be There," and "Please Mr. Please".  She then covered Johnny Cash's "Banks of the Ohio," followed by a beautiful version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene"  (VIDEO).  She ended this set with her own hit version of John Denver's "Country Roads, Take Me Home."  What can I say, her singing here was effortless!

Still sitting down, her guitarists began playing a bossa nova beat, to which she began singing the first verse of her massive (topping the chart for 10 weeks) Number 1 hit "Physical."  Midway into the second verse though, she interrupted her musicians and asked the audience whether we'd like to hear the original way this song was sung.  Of course the audience said "Yes!"  So she stood up and rendered an energetic and rousing version, singing and dancing like it was still 1981! Amazing!

In the next songs, she became personal.  She first sang "Send In the Clowns" saying how much she loved the song.  She then proudly related about surviving breast cancer, singing the lively "Not Gonna Give In To It."  She then proudly dedicated her next beautiful ballad "Grace and Gratitude" to Earth Hour, an Aussie initiative, now observed worldwide, which was being celebrated tonight as well.  She followed this with another original, "Don't Stop Believing," (NOT the Journey or Glee song).  She then sang some revivals of familiar fast songs from a movie she recently made where she played a mother of the bride from hell ("Mickey," "I Think I Love You," and "Sugar Sugar" among others).

After that lull of not-too-known songs, the next segment was dedicated to her most famous movie: GREASE!   The first song of the set was "You're the One That I Want" (VIDEO), followed by "Hopelessly Devoted to You."  She drew the audience to sing along with her and her back-up singers on "Summer Nights."  And finally after she sang "We Go Together," she waved and left the stage.  Of course, the audience still clamored for more.

Ms. Olivia then came out with a glittery shawl and finally sang her most awaited song as her finale: "I Honestly Love You."  She sang it very slowly, seemingly meaning every word.  Her audience was mesmerized and showered her with declarations of love throughout the song. After this, the concert ended.  I am very happy to have seen her perform her timeless songs live.  Ms. Olivia Newton-John is indeed timeless voice and beauty personified.

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