Foreigner, Poison and all those other rock bands that
haven't had hits in years can tour all they want, but one
of the better nostalgia tours to catch this summer is
Olivia Newton-John's low-profile trek, which drew a crowd
of respectable size to Riverport Amphitheatre on Saturday
"Looking every bit as fit as the teeny-bopper she played in "Grease" 21 years ago and occasionally sounding more robust than ever, Newton-John promised early on to provide a journey through her music, which is probably more expansive than those familiar with the "Grease" tunes and million-selling "Physical" hit realize.
"The fun, innocent trip began with a pair of cheese puffs from the "Xanadu" soundtrack -- "Magic" and the title track, during which she crossed a pair of long-stemmed red roses that fans gave her to form an X. This beng a carreer-retrospective concert, Newton-John often explained songs. For example, she said that country song "Please Mr. Please" caused a stir in Nashville when it was released in 1975; that she wasn't crazy about recording "If Not For You," which would become her first hit record; that she only now understands what the song "Have You Never Been Mellow" is about; and that she recorded "Over the Rainbow" for a lullabies CD because her daughter Chloe was having trouble sleeping.
"She had fun with the "Grease" segment of the show, strutting back and forth while sporting leather jackets for "You're the One That I Want" and trying not-so-successfully to drum up some audience participation for "Summer Nights."
|"After addressing her
early '90s bout with breast cancer, which she conquered,
she sang a buoyant, Latin-seasoned "I'm Not Gonna
Give In to It." A tribute to those not as lucky as
she included acoustic versions of the Carpenters' (They
Long to Be) Close to You" and John Denver's
"Take Me Home, Country Roads." A couple of
songs, "Precious Love" and "Back With a
Heart," came from last year's country-pop "Back
With a Heart" CD.
"One song, dedicated to trees, proved to be one of the night's rare low points; the lyrics she penned included "Don't cut me down/For I am innocent/Don't cut me down/I am your friend." The other "bathroom break song" came when Newton-John left to change her outfit, leaving the band alone to do a rotten version of Stevie Wonder's "I Wish."
"Pop pianist Jim Brickman opened for Newton-John, alone except for his trusted piano. He mentioned that whenever one of his tunes features a vocalist, who have included Carly Simon and Martina McBride, the public is often confused, not realizing it's a Brickman tue. He sang a medley of these tunes, displaying a voice with little range and with pacing that was off but still worked in this context."
This page brought to you by the Olivia Newton-John fan club Only Olivia.
Back to Olivia's Summer 1999 Tour
last updated January 13, 2003