From "If Not for You" to "Physical," from Grease to Xanadu, from her successful battle against breast cancer to her support of numerous environmental causes, Olivia Newton-John has had a long, fruitful, and impressive care... more »er, as Live at the Sydney Opera House, a good-looking, great-sounding, beautifully performed concert recorded in 2006, will testify. Born in 1948, Newton-John is one of those singers who these days would be known as a diva, were it not for the fact that her musical style and overall manner are too self-effacing for so presumptuous a term. And while her voice is a bit less pristine these days than when she came on the scene with a series of country-flavored singles in the '70s, what little she's lost in purity is balanced by an increase in soul; she'll never be Etta James, but once she warms up, she hits the high notes with ease and sings with considerable power and confidence. What's more, though she's usually categorized as an adult contemporary artist, in the course of this career-spanning, 27-song set (backed by a first-rate band and the full Sydney Symphony Orchestra), she reveals herself to be at ease with a variety of styles, ranging from the aforementioned country ("Let Me Be There," "Please Mr. Please," and a rousing version of Dolly Parton's "Jolene") through soft pop ("I Honestly Love You," "Have You Never Been Mellow"), the movie hits (two from Xanadu and three from Grease), an electronically re-created duet with the late Peter Allen ("Tenterfield Saddler"), and even a creditable go at the torch standard "Cry Me a River." There are no DVD bonus features, but between-songs bits find Newton-John, daughter Chloe Lattanzi, and members of the band providing a tourist's eye view of Sydney. --Sam Graham« less
the astral agent | Brooklyn, NY United States | 01/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had seen some teasers of this concert on PBS and thought it looked pretty tight, so I was hopeful it would be better than the pretty-good concert Olivia put out in limited release from 2002. MY how she has grown in confidence since then! She was really at ease with ALL of her musical styles here, and with the audience, and with her band.
For those who have seen her live in this century (haha, but quite seriously), you know she has stuck with a particular musicians in her band line-up at guitar & backing vocals & a multi-instrumentalist. Well, they have all improved together over the years, and she splits her vocal duets with all of them plus a video with peter allen (RIP) that is quite dramatic instead of what you'd think (cheesy) -- it came off like a beautiful surreal movie. Step back Babs Streisand, theres a superior mature female vocalist with wider musical range of selection and a purer heart! Olivia is just in her finest form!
Not only do the duets remind you what a skilled duets singer she is -- she has an entirely unique ability to blend her voice with others, always giving them the space to excel while quietly creating the whole landscape on which the feeling of the song sits! But its clear she gets on with the band so well, and they ALL clearly LIKE each other and "Get it" about Olivia, and help support her being the best she can be. You are not watching a concert of a group that is just there to get their paycheck and join the next artist's tour. They are ALL on board just for Olivia, and over the last 8 years, their loyalty has turned up real gold in their performances together. I dont say this because "thats nice" but because it makes for great collaborative music. Add in the lush Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and you have a classic.
You also get to feel the genuine gratitude not only for a fellow Aussie music legend, Peter Allen -- who was married for 7 years to Liza Minnelli before coming out gay in 1974, the year he wrote one of Olivia's definitive songs "I Honestly Love You" -- Their "Tenderfield Saddler" duet here was a big payback, and added just another transcendent dimension to this amazing concert.
But I guess the main thing to point out here is that Livvy is in a really good place, as her recent recordings bear proof. Though oddly, I am saying all of this without any representation on this DVD from 3 of my very favorite Newton-John albums in this concert (Totally Hot, Back with a Heart, and Grace & Gratitude), the show is so superb, you can understand the choices perfectly. She didnt need those 3 albums to still spin out this masterpiece.
For someone with 30 (THIRTY!) top 40 hits in their career, it is easy to become a slave to your past success, merely a showcase for your hits. In fact, thats almost the rule among pop/rock performers. But Olivia has turned that around: Her hits are merely showcasing HER. She has emerged - at almost 60 years of age - as an agelessly powerful singer, writer, interpreter & performer, who is still entirely present, and not at all sheepishly digging up the past. This is really really impressive stuff.
So if you're thinking "Maybe" about adding this to your dvd collection, then I can pretty much promise you, the answer is YES ... you should get it."
A Great Career Retrospective, Done LIVE!
KRA | East End of LI | 01/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The greatest test of a singer is how they sing live, and hopefully with no pre-recorded tracks and amplified back-tracking. That said it seems that a number of singers who came of age in the 1970's are the ones who continue to deliver the goods live.
Olivia is a real life survivor, and here she is backed by not only the Sydney Symphony, but her own tight band and real live back-up vocalists. Sometimes artists have the urge to delv into the world of cover songs, or sing a lot of new material, here Olivia stands by the age tested showbiz saying, give the people want they want.
In a very polished, and classy way, she delivers the hits from all phases are her long career. Have You Ever Been Mellow, and a medley of her Country hits, such as Let Me Be There, do justice to her early years, and although the film of Xanadu was not a hit, the soundtrack was, and she shows us why.
Physical, from the album of the same name, and her biggest seller todate, gets a revamp here, but the playfullnes of the song remains, as it does on Make A Move On Me.
Grease is well represented here (as it should be), and these songs never seem to grow old, and I doubt they ever will. A star in his own right, Warren Ham, fills in for John Travolta, and frankly sings better than Mr. Travolta ever could.
Olivia closes the show with the beautiful ballad, I Honesty Love You, a song written by fellow Australian, the late, great, Peter Allen. Like a number of her peers, Ms. Newton-John could just as easily sit home and watch the royalty checks come in, instead she continues to dazzle her fans and gain new ones. A class act indeed!
Carter Hargrave | Tulsa, OK USA | 12/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just watched this concert on our local college station broadcast and it was wonderful. She has lost none of her luster over the years, and the new version of lets get physical with her group and the synphony orchestra is stunning. I couldnt help but crank up the surround sound and sit there with my mouth open. I cant wait to buy my copy to keep and watch again. I am also going to get the cd to put on the ipod for sure. "
As Beautiful As Ever
Carter Hargrave | 12/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I haven't heard much from Olivia in the past decade or so. That is until I stumbled across a PBS special Live at the Sydney Opera. She not only looks incredible, but sounds exactly the same as she did when I saw Grease. I actually pre-ordered this DVD as a result of seeing this special. GOD she looks and sounds great and thank GOD I saw this, I forgot I was madly in love with her."
Pam Simpson | CT | 12/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have had the pleasure of getting this DVD early. This DVD is perfect for all Olivia fans! She not only performs her number one hits, she performs songs off of her 2005 release "Stronger Then Before." The behind-the-scenes of Olivia walking around in Sydney are such a joy to see. All in all this DVD is perfect!"