Sitting outside on a warm summer night, listening and singing along to Olivia Newton John sing Summer Lovin’ is as much a tradition for the generations as was the setting, The Fair at the PNE.
That perfect night occurred for thousands of fans last Friday when the star of the 1978 hit, Grease appeared at The Fairs’ Summer Night Concerts.
She opened in the still strong, mellow voice we expected with Magic, a salute to her daughter Chloe. She quickly moved into Xanadu, also from the movie in which she starred.
She appeared in the perfect “little black outfit”- black slacks and blouse, under a black blazer. The blazer was later replaced by a long glittery sleeveless coat and when she moved into Country music, a beautiful embroidered white and blue jacket replaced the previous jacket and a glitzy cowboy hat topped the outfit.
She showed how well she moves between the genres, singing her country hits, Country Roads, Jolene, Let me be there, among others.
During her performance, clips from her extensive career, travels, awards, record covers, newspaper front pages, were shown. The audience reacted with cheers when Grease photos came up, but she also has the Key to Las Vegas, was honoured at the White House, and modelled by Madame Tussaud.
photo credit: Judy Robb
She was accompanied by two male and one female singer. Her band played a variety of instruments including the expected guitars, regular and bass, drums, keyboard, but also a saxophone and flute. The good vibe between them was visible during the entire show, even singing Happy birthday to Steve Real, one of the male singers.
Even though the sound on the microphone she used between numbers was poor and disappeared often when she talked, we were able to follow her stories.
She was great with the audience, sharing a number of anecdotes. She spoke of how people came up to her regularly and told her that she brings the same joy to their grandchildren that she had for them in the past, not certain it was a compliment.
But she sang and danced Physical as if she were still 29 and leading our fitness class favourite!
Under clips of dolphins swimming happily, Olivia spoke of being a breast cancer survivor and the song she wrote to describe her journey, Not going to give into it !
The mood was strengthened by the multi coloured lights of red, orange and yellow, and the lively Brazilian salsa /samba sight and sound.
The last black outfit, of course, exchanged a long elegant coat for the black leather “Sandy” jacket.
A Grease medley followed. You’re the one that I want, Hopelessly devoted to you, and finally Summer Lovin’ as a round competition, the guys vs. the gals.
Her background vocalists were excellent. We didn’t miss John T when Stevie filled in for him in the classic duets. Her other female singer, Marlane, sported the pink Rizzo jacket and we were back in the ‘70s, except for all the cell phones in the audience, recording.
Finally, she changed into a long white sequinned dress to close the show. She had written a special song, Thank you For Everything and then finished with I Honestly Love You.
She wished everyone health and love and peace, bowed, curtsied, and blew kisses to us and her group and after a hundred minutes she disappeared.
Finally, reappearing alone, her encore was just Steve at the grand piano and her solo, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. She hit all the notes pure and clear, and then disappeared back stage, leaving us humming and thrilled to have seen such an amazing entertainer as we wandered home.
Feature image – photo credit: Judy Robb