A 35,000-strong crowd cheered and gladly took a trip down memory lane with Olivia Newton-John at her recent concert here. Nur Aqidah Azizi was there
IT was a night of nostalgia for the 3,500-strong crowd at the Arena Of Stars, Genting Highlands, recently when pop icon Olivia Newton-John took them down memory lane with her hit songs.
The Australian-born artiste was here as part of her Asian tour which covered Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Olivia Newton-John Live In Concert was organised by Offshore Entertainment Production Sdn Bhd.
Akademi Fantasia second runner-up Farhan Azizan opened the show at 8pm with a string of familiar tunes. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed her effortless renditions of Natalie Cole’s Route 66, Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love Of All.
Then, as Newton-John made her way to centrestage with her seven-piece band, it was evident that the crowd could not contain their excitement — the arena was ringing with rapturous cheer.
Newton-John launched into Pearls On A Chain, off her latest album Grace And Gratitude Renewed. Her voice was still as sweet as how many would have remembered it. Heartfelt yet powerful, it was perfect in every way. And for it to have come from a 64-year-old cancer survivor, lent a whole new meaning to the experience.
“Thank you for making us feel so welcome. This year marks my 40th anniversary as a recording artiste,” she said, before delivering Have You Never Been Mellow, her second consecutive No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1975.
Next came a string of her evergreen tunes, including A Little More Love, Sam and a selection from the 1980 romantic musical fantasy Xanadu in which she played a girl with superhuman powers.
She also paid tribute to country music, much to the crowd’s delight. Seated on a stool, the 1974 Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist Of The Year kicked off the segment with Bob Dylan’s If Not For You, followed by Please Mister Please, Let Me Be There and Jolene.
She also performed the ever-popular Physical, her biggest US hit, with two million copies sold in America and 10 weeks at No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1981.But as soon as she hit the first note, with the tempo turned down, she told the band to stop playing. “I kind of like the old way. Do you like the old way?” she teased to loud cheers from the crowd. The band then turned up the tempo and launched into that familiar pulsating beat.
By then most in the crowd were on their feet and dancing to the beat, before joining Newton-John to sing Country Road. It was great to see her working her hits and keeping fans entertained.
When she shared about the movies she had acted in, the audience sort of knew what was up next — her hits from the movies, especially from the pop culture phenomenon Grease. Released in 1978, this musical saw Newton-John starring alongside John Travolta.
“I’m lucky to have made some good movies, Grease being one of them,” she said to loud cheers.
She channelled her character Sandy Olson, donning tight black leather trousers and a black leather jacket, and kicked off the segment with You’re The One That I Want, which brought the house down.
“Many have asked what it was like to act in the movie alongside Travolta and kissing him. Of course, it was a drag,” she said with a laugh, before delivering Hopelessly Devoted To You, Summer Nights and We Go Together.
Just when the crowd thought Newton-John had call it a night, she performed the heart-wrenching I Honestly Love You. Obviously, no Newton-John show would be complete without it, and the performance was dripped with emotion. A perfect end to the showcase.