Only Olivia Fan Club

Ohio Theatre, Columbus, OH

Sept 10, 2002

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Columbus Dispatch  Sept 11 2002

  By Gary Budzak

It may have been more mellow than physical, but Olivia Newton-John gave an enjoyable performance with her band and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra last night in the Ohio Theatre.

"Maybe I hang around you a little more than I should . . .,'' Newton-John sang offstage to begin the 80-minute concert. Then she walked on stage, wearing a beautiful full-length pink gown and wrap, with coral-colored boots. She looked great for someone about to turn 54 in a few weeks.  Equally impressive were her vocals. Carrying a cordless microphone, Newton-John sang sweetly and strongly, and for the most part, even her sometimes-hushed speaking voice could be heard well.

Newton-John's mannerisms were charming, too. She curtsied, drank tea between songs and graciously accepted flowers and a check to the American Cancer Society. After starting with Have You Never Been Mellow and If You Love Me, Newton-John performed several songs from the film Xanadu. While Xanadu, Suspended in Time and Magic were effective, the swing/rock number Dancin' (performed live for the first time, she said) sounded forced.

Newton-John's biggest hit, Physical, got the lounge/bossa nova treatment as she purred her suggestive lyrics while seated on a stool. She was saving the aerobics for the Latin-tinged Not Gonna Give In To It, a high-stepper that came too abruptly after the somber Sept. 11 tribute Sand and Water. Next came the Grease portion of the show, with Newton-John and her band donning leather jackets and hamming it up through You're the One That I Want, Hopelessly Devoted To You and Summer Nights. It was fun, but as my guest accurately said of singer/multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham (portraying the Danny Zuko character), "He's no John Travolta!'' Newton-John came full circle in her encore with I Honestly Love You, the fragment of which began the evening.

You'll notice that I've barely mentioned the CSO. That's because they didn't have much to do. A lot of talented musicians had the best seats in the house. When the CSO did play some skimpy arrangements, Newton-John's band -- especially her drummer -- often drowned out the strings and brass.

With thanks to Jim Roy

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