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Olivia Newton-John opens 2017 world tour in Dallas

Denise Truscello
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DALLAS – As the opening night of her 2017 World Tour, Olivia Newton-John couldn’t have asked for a more perfect crowd this past Thursday in Dallas, TX. 

Filling out the Verizon Theatre from top to bottom, the pop icon proved that there’s a reason she’s still one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. Whether you fell in love with her portrayal of the bright-eyed Sandy Olsson in Grease or make “Physical” a part of your daily workout mix, it’s hard not to be enamored with the 68-year old Aussie goddess. 

Starting the evening off with a spunky music video introduction featuring Newton-John and her daughter Chloe Lattanzi, Newton-John strutted out in a sleek black ensemble to the tune of one of her biggest hits: “Magic.” While Newton-John’s 1983 film Xanadu has gone down in history as a camp classic, her contributions to the soundtrack have proven themselves as some of her most cherished tunes. Going from the aforementioned “Magic” into the disco-rific title track, Newton-John had the audience standing up and dancing in the aisles before the evening was even in full swing. It was only when she sang “Suddenly,” a duet with Cliff Richards, that the crowd finally eased up and sat down to appreciate the beauty of her performance. 

Newton-John has never been about the spectacle of performance, background dancers, or pyrotechnics. For her, it’s about forming a connection with the audience and focusing on the music she’s here to share. And what perfect music it is. 

“Do you guys like country music?” While not some of her most immediately recognizable tracks, Newton-John began her career in the ‘70s bridging the gap between pop and country with hits like “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “Please Mr. Please.” Donning a cowgirl hat with a brightly-lit smile, Newton-John even sang a rousing cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” that she made wholly her own.

And even if our default image of Newton-John is that of an apple-cheeked goody two-shoes, Newton-John made sure to remind us that she could get bad when she felt like it. After delightfully boasting about how “Physical” was her only song to ever get banned from radio (“Compared to everything on the radio nowadays, it’s more like a lullaby!”), she gave the crowd an impromptu exercise class as she belted out the signature hit while prancing around the stage doing jumping jacks. 

It was an evening filled with highlights like that, whether she was serenading the crowd with a ballad off her newest record Liv On! or singing deeper cuts like “The Promise (The Dolphin Song)” and “Don’t Cut Me Down” during an environmental-themed medley. 

But there’s no denying that the joy reached its ultimate peak when Newton-John came strutting out in a leather jacket just like the one she donned nearly 40 years ago in the final scene of Grease. With the beat of “You’re the One That I Want” ringing throughout the Verizon Theatre, everyone collectively hooped and hollered as Newton-John belted out her signature tunes just as stunningly as she did in 1978. 

“How many of you guys have seen Grease 10 times? Fifty times? A hundred times? Two hundred times?” 

After a soulful performance of “Hopelessly Devoted To You” that nearly had everyone in tears (this reviewer included), Newton-John engaged the audience with a “Summer Nights” sing-along that was every bit as silly and entertaining as you’d expect it to be. But while you may have come into the evening expecting a carefree set of fun pop tunes, you left with a newfound appreciate for Newton-John as a vocalist and artist. 

Newton-John’s name isn’t brought up nearly enough when discussing great female vocalists. Her singing was pitch-perfect from beginning to end, with some notes leaving the audience jaw-dropped at just how mighty her vocal powers really are. One such moment included her show-stopping encore of Judy Garland’s “Over The Rainbow.” Even if you’ve heard countless versions of the classic song by this point in your life, Newton-John’s rendition still managed to punch you in the gut with sheer beauty and optimism. 

Musical trends may come and go, but Olivia Newton-John is forever. Few performers have established the sort of versatility and success she’s established over her nearly 50-year career. Even if this was my third time seeing Newton-John perform, her show at the Verizon Theatre was still full of surprises and tender moments that everyone in the audience will cherish forever. Newton-John’s just that special, so it’s really no wonder why we’re all still so hopelessly devoted to her after all this time.

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About the Author

Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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