Only Olivia Fan Club

Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, FL

Sept  8, 2001

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Review from Tampa Tribune, BayLife Section

Newton-John's "Physical' Presence Delights Audience

 

BY: CURTIS ROSS
Sept 10, 2001

CLEARWATER Olivia Newton-John, who turns 53 on Sept. 26, has aged wonderfully. Beaming back at an adoring, sold-out Ruth Eckerd Hall crowd of 2,173 Saturday night, she looked youthful enough to step back into the role of high-school ingenue Sandy, whom she portrayed in 1978's ""Grease.'' Her hits have aged just as well. ""Sam'' was a luminous pop gem, and Newton-John's performance, backed by a crack band and a pair of singers, revealed hints of Burt Bacharach in the tune's dense harmonies.

Even the impossibly perky ""Physical'' was delivered with real energy. Newton-John poked fun at the song's aerobics anthem status with some jumping jacks, and she scatted along to her lead guitarist's solo. ""My body's all talked out now,'' she joked at song's end.

She ended her version of Dolly Parton's ""Jolene'' with some impressive, soaring high notes. Her voice sounded strong throughout, with a new, slightly husky edge.

Her 1980 film ""Xanadu'' may have become a camp classic, but the songs she performed from it ""Xanadu,'' ""Magic'' and ""Suddenly'' were undeniably strong, as was ""A Little More Love.'' A two-song acoustic set featured a sweetly gentle ""Don't Stop Believing,'' another showcase for Newton-John's feather-light soprano.

The set's emotional high point for the singer seemed to be a trio of self-penned tunes. ""Not Gonna Give Into It'' was an energetic, Latin-tinged number written amid her bout with breast cancer. ""Don't Cut Me Down'' and ""The Promise (The Dolphin Song)'' were accompanied by nature video footage as they addressed environmental concerns.

A ""Grease'' medley was an obvious favorite of the audience, which gave the star several standing ovations and many bouquets of flowers.

Thanks to Gordon Helser

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