Olivia Newton-John : Summer Nights Concert at The PNE

What a great way to wrap up another year of The Fair At The PNE, Olivia Newton-John was the final Summer Night Concert performer on the WestJet Stage at The PNE. Many fans staked out their seats early in the day as the outdoor concert venue was full to capacity early on and every available view of the stage was thick with fans hoping for a glimpse of and to listen to Ms Newton-John. From the first notes of “Have You Never Been Mellow” the audience was hanging on every word.  A surprisingly varied aged crowd were drawn to the show by the Australian raised singer’s vast song list, and of course her perpetually perky performance as Sandy in 1978’s Grease keeps finding audiences decades later. Having performed in a variety of genres helps broaden her audience.  Throughout her performance we were treated to bundled sets, like mini shows within the show, a country set included her Top 10 track, “Let Me Be There” and a well done cover of the Dolly Parton classic, “Jolene”.  A set of songs from the flop film but hit musical, Xanadu got the audience up and moving as visions of roller skates went through our heads. The hot hit that really heated up the crowd was the 1981 classic “Physical”, I’m sure a lot of the ladies in the audience cringed at the memory of their leg warmers and spandex inspired by the chart topper.

So not to dwell completely in the past, Olivia included a brand new John Farrar penned song, from a forthcoming film soundtrack for A Few Best Men. While her voice has dropped an octave or two in the past few decades making the high notes on some of the old tunes more difficult, this new song was perfectly suited to show of her still impressive voice. Her voice may have also been affected by her battle with cancer 20 years ago, which she discussed and provided encouragement and support to those currently battling or fellow survivors, which she put into the song “Not Gonna Give Into It”.  Her show, like her career and catalogue was a collection of upbeat moments and slow, soft ballads but the veteran performer knows what it takes to truly make her audience get up and feel good.  A good old sing-along rounded out the night as she brought out the nostalgia with a set of songs from the Grease soundtrack, with “You’re The One That I Want” a duet with her male back up singer, “Hopelessly Devoted To You” and with encouraged audience participation a fun rendition of “Summer Nights” and finally “We Go Together” which the back up singers finished off as Olivia left the stage.  She returned a moment later to close the set, thanking the audience for a great start to her new tour heading across North America until year end, with her first number 1 hit “I Honestly Love You”.  A fitting end to a fun show and a great way to wrap up the 2012 Summer Nights Concert series at The PNE.

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