Star Plaza Merrillville, IN

June 21 2003

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Photos and concert review by Barry Freiman.



Barry's Review of the Concert

The concert opens with the same video that she showed on her Physical tour (a nice touch that older fans like me definitely remembered seeing the video the first time) with the band playing a medley of her hits in the background and then it of course continues forward to the present. She opened with have u never been mellow. Then she went into Xanadu (in the past, she used to try and lower the last high note in Xanadu when I've seen her live, now she hit it dead on), Magic (I think), and Suddenly. Her backup band is amazing including the singers -- much better than the Tom Scott Band was on the Physical tour and she seems to have picked the best singers for her voice rather than a band she liked as she'd done on past tours. There was one male singer in particular with a very beautiful voice who she used on most of the duets.

She talks a LOT to the audience - and isn't at all stiff or uncomfortable - she definitely feels the love from the fans and gives it back.

She did some OLD stuff - it started w/ the Dylan song If Not For You and that was when, in the pictures, she's sitting with the guys with the guitars And she ended the "retro-tour" with a slam bang belting out of "Sam".

I was surprised that she didn't do some of the "B"-songs that I heard she did on the last tour -- ie., no Twist of Fate, no Suspended In Time, no Dancin'.

And the live version of Physical was SO much better than the already good version on (2) and any other live bootleg version I've heard of the samba version. It was a lot less "samba-ey" and a lot more almost R&B.

What else ?

The typical Grease songs (HDTY, YTOTIW, AND SN) and she played with the audience during Summer Nights which was fun. Her singer this time actually tried to sound like Travolta rather than "satirize" Travolta. Same with Suddenly & Cliff Richard.

She sang a beautiful rendition of "Don't Cut Me Down", ended as she always does with I Honestly Love You, and my only complaint was that I could have sat there and listened to her sing for at least another hour. It was a relatively short show - about 90 minutes.

She used the giant video screen very effectively during the show with rare photos or just visuals befitting the particular song or footage from Xanadu or Grease -- this was a very choreographed and prepared show that didn't feel that way, but clearly a lot of effort went into everything.

And I liked that there was no opening act.

That pretty much covers it I think.

Oh and for about the first 20 minutes of the show, no exaggeration, people walked up to the stage handing her bouquets of flowers, gifts, stuffed animals - it was almost like she was the golden calf - it truly was remarkable to see the great love and adoration she engenders in her fan base And it could not have been easy to keep singing in tune while making sure that anyone who wanted to touch her hand, especially kids, got the chance to do so. I actually bought her flowers but I'd met her twice before so handing her flowers was no biggie for me - so I just passed them up and let a kid give them to her (I had a note attached to it which is really what I wanted her to get , just a fanatic type thanks for being a presence in my life thing, because I never said anything even close to what I wanted to during the two times I met her -- tongue tied big time).

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