March 27, 2012 00:00 By KITTIPONG THAVEVONG
Olivia Newton-John shows she's still got what it takes
British-Australian singer Olivia Newton-John arrived in Bangkok for her first live concert in Thailand last Friday night, wowing her loyal fans but disappointing those members of the audience who expected to see her perform like in her heyday.
At 63, the four-time Grammy award winner still has a clear and sweet voice, albeit one that packs less power than it did in the ’70s and ’80s when her singing career was at its peak.
A smiling Newton-John greeted her audience in Thai, “Sawasdee kha”, and told them that the Bangkok concert was her first in Asia this year. According to her official website, the spring 2012 tour that kicked off in the City of Angels will also take her to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Hong Kong, Colombo and Jakarta.
The “Summer Night with Olivia Newton-John” took place in the packed Hall 106 of the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Bitec) in Bang Na, Many Thai celebrities were among the audience members, among them singers Maleewan Jemeena, Thitima Sutasunthorn and Nicole Theriault.
Newton-John performed more than 20 songs during the 100-minute show – most of them hits from her heyday, such as “Magic” and “Sam”. She brought along her four-member backup band and a chorus group consisting of two men and a woman. The two men in the chorus also duetted with her on such numbers as “Suddenly” and “You Are the One That I Want” from the hit movie “Grease”.
Much to the audience’s delight, she also performed other songs from the movie – “Summer Nights”, “Hopelessly Devoted to You”, and “We Go Together”.
She showed a great deal of energy on “Physical” and “Xanadu” (from the 1980 musical film of the same name), smiling throughout the concert and dancing.
The audience appeared suitably impressed and rewarded her with long applause.
They also loved her slower songs, which included “Send in the Clowns” off her 2004 album “Indigo – Women of Song”.
“Not Gonna Give In to It”, which Newton-John wrote after being diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago, also received long applause. She explained the song came into her thoughts when she was thinking about quitting singing.
The country medley session that included “If Not for You” and late American singer/songwriter John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads”, was captivating, with audience members singing along and clapping their hands.
The disco medley that featured “Sugar Sugar” and “Mickey”, among others, was less of a success, disappointing audience members who’d obviously expected to see a more exciting performance of the dance music.
Newton-John thanked the audience in Thai before performing her “goodnight song” –“I Honestly Love You” – as an encore.
Those who expected her to perform with the same voice quality as in her heyday left feeling disappointed. But those who simply wanted to a long-time favourite singer perform live were more than satisfied.