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Dallas, Meyerson Symphony

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From Dallas Morning News, by Al Brumley Sept 1

Newton-John Still Has That Magic

When a pop icon who's been off the charts for years suddenly turns up in town to sing live, it's only natural to wonder how time has treated her.
One guy - probably a former member of his high-school audio visual club - was so concerned about Olivia Newton-John's voice Friday night at the Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center that he took the large mixing board in the back of the hall as proof she'd lost her chops. "Her voice must not be as good as it used to be, because that's a big mixer," he said to the missus as they returned to their seats after intermission. "That's a big, big mixer."
Well, no need to fear, Ms Newton-John sounded as fresh and strong as if somebody had just plopped down a tonearm on one of her old 45s. Stepping lively in a lavender sequined gown and spike-heeled boots, she sang for more than an hour, hampered only by a muddy mix (That board might have been big, but you've still got to know how to work all them dials and buttons).
Backed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and an ace band that included Dallas' own Andy Timmons on guitar, Ms Newton-John hit her career highlightes, rarely adding anything more than can be bought in a record store, but not cheating on any of those high notes, either.
She opened with Magic and followed that one with Xanadu before stretching back to her country years with If You Love Me.
But she hit her stride when the roadies brought some stools onstage and she sang Come On Over accompanied by only acoustic guitars and her two background singers. It was a powerful muscular rendition that laid to rest any question of potential electronic shenanigans. She might not shake the rafters like Linda Ronstradt but few pop singers can match her purity and artistry.
And despite the note for note renditions, she still managed to inject spirit into the concert, especially during Summer Nights which became a mini-Broadway production.

In the first set the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed a lively group of tunes ranging from in Dvorák's Slavonic Dance no 7 in C major to the world premiere of an orchestral arrangement of a medley from Mel Brooks' musical The Producers. Unfortunately, the arrangement was completed less than a week ago and it showed in the playing. Although the piece wasn't particularly difficult the orchestra wasn't nearly as tight as it was on other selections, and the rhythm section in particular seemed to be dragging.

With thanks to Larry Barber

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last updated January 13, 2003