Sunday, June 12, 2011

Recharged Olivia Newton-John lifts the spirits


From The Australian: A sparklingly in-form Olivia Newton-John sent her audience into raptures at the opening weekend of the 11th Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The event's headline performer made her long-awaited homecoming to Australia after an extended period overseas in a show of uplifting spirit, energy and generosity.

Looking trim and sprite in a sequined black outfit, she showed that she was thoroughly recharged and her voice is as fresh as ever. Her youthfully high range remains intact, her rhythmic timing is impeccable and she crosses styles from rock and pop to country with alacrity.

Early chart-toppers including Have You Ever Been Mellow, a swag of numbers from Grease, and a laid-back selection of country music songs made for a varied, well-rounded performance that was backed impressively by her own band and the Adelaide Art Orchestra.

But it was Newton-John's inclusion of newer songs on themes of personal survival that made the performance special. Grace and Gratitude from 2006 and the tender Help Me To Heal, from her Grace And Gratitude Renewed album, revealed a woman of great stamina, optimism and heart. The cancer survivor shared very movingly with her audience the enormously positive spirit that has seen her prevail over hardship.

Cabaret is not her natural bag, but she slipped into this with success too in a memorably languid, breathy version of Over the Rainbow accompanied just by piano. It was transfixing, and proved how our Olivia continues to shine as bright as ever as one of Australia's most indelible musical jewels.
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