Only Olivia Fan Club

Ceebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ

August 23, 2001

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Review from Arizona Republic Paper

Olivia shows nice girls can finish first

By Randy Cordova
Aug. 24, 2001

Olivia Newton-John always has seemed nice: Nice woman, nice songs, nice voice. Celebrating 30 years since her first hit record with a concert Thursday at the Celebrity Theatre, that's still the overwhelming impression.

That's not to say she's shallow. I Honestly Love You was almost nakedly emotional, particularly in Newton-John's conversational style. And her boldly dramatic take on Don't Cry For Me, Argentina was a powerful reminder of how pure her soprano can be.
Running more than two hours, the show pretty much offered everything a fan would want from the singer. Backed by a tight seven-piece band and two vocalists, it touched every base of her long career.
Maybe it's because Newton-John hasn't played Phoenix in two decades or simply that she's got a rabid fan base, but the packed audience basically reveled at the singer's feet. After a certain point, you lost track counting the standing ovations or the number of gifts presented to her.

Better just to sit back and enjoy what she offered. Most of her hits sound relatively timeless - then again, she had the good sense to forego such '80s bombshells as Heart Attack and Soul Kiss. Instead, she sang Please Mr. Please, Have You Never Been Mellow and Magic, her sweet voice sounding remarkably unchanged.
If anything, her interpretive skills are more potent than ever. The soaring Sam was simply lovely, as was a tender, "unplugged"-style Come On Over. And I Honestly Love You brought tears to more than a few people's eyes in the crowd. Not that everything was peaches and cream. Newton-John brings her daughter, Chloe, up for a couple of duets. The 15-year-old solos on At Last in a wildly affected manner that makes Christina Aguilera sound subtle. It was the perfect moment to head for the souvenir stand. And while Newton-John's sincerity is touching, her ecologically themed songs aren't particularly challenging. Don't Cut Me Down, written from the point of view of a tree in the rain forest, includes the wince-inducing lyric, "Don't cut me down/I am your friend."

Instead, it was more fun when she stuck to the likes of Physical, Xanadu and an energetic collection of three tunes from Grease. Watching the slim singer strut around the stage in a black leather jacket and high heels, it's hard to imagine she'll turn 53 next month.  In fact, with her ageless cheerleader looks, spritely manner and still-girlish voice, the whole evening had a time-warp quality to it that was very, well, nice. Sometimes, that's enough.

Thanks to Jeff Kulas

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