Olivia Newton John is many things to many people:  icon, legend, cancer thriver (her words), tireless advocate and every schoolboy’s toughest choice between nice or naughty Sandy from Grease, still the most successful movie musical of all time. Her timeless appeal spans five decades and includes four Grammy wins and  sales of 100 million albums that spawned 15 Top Ten singles and 10 No. 1s. As the sold out crowd watched the “Magic” video, she strolled quietly onstage as the backlighting accentuated her still shapely 69 year-old silhouette. When the spots came on to reveal her signature blond locks and infectious smile, she looked like she had just stepped out of Christie Brinkley’s time machine.

The show ran the entire emotional spectrum from the youthful euphoria of the rocking mini Grease set that had over 1,000 people on their feet to the heart wrenching songs about the death of her sister and her very public battles with breast cancer. Early on, she asked, “Does anyone here like country music?” After hearty applause she quipped, “That’s too bad because we don’t know any.”  Of course, her first four hits were country and she showcased that early part of her career with a medley of If You Love Me (Let Me Know),” “Have You Never Been Mellow,” “Please Mr. Please,” and “Let Me Be There.” After an acoustic version of “Physical,” she dedicated “The Promise” (The Dolphin Song) to her sister Rona who lost her battle with brain cancer in 21013. She performed it while a mesmerizing video of a dolphin superpod played in the background. She credited songwriter John Farrar for his inspirational work on “Live On” and “Not Gonna Give Into It, “saying “I never knew how much those songs would wind up applying to me and I use them every night to draw inspiration.” The latter part of the evening turned into the Sandy Olsen show as Newton-John recruited band member Steven Young to assume John Travolta’s role as duet partner for the most recognizable songs on the movie’s nearly 40-year old soundtrack .The time warp included a blistering  “You’re The One That I Want” and the always tender “Hopelessly Devoted To You.” She closed with a bewitching version of “I Honestly Love You.”

It was an evening that was timeless, cross-generational, cross cultural and not soon forgotten.

The local promoter introduced the show by saying, “We’ve had a lot of great performers come on this stage but tonight is going to be REALLY SPECIAL.” He could not have been more right.


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