Saturday 23 September 2017

Review: An Acoustic Evening with Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky

Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Amy Sky, National Concert Hall, Dublin

Presenter Olivia Newton-John speaks onstage during the American Country Awards 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on December 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Presenter Olivia Newton-John speaks onstage during the American Country Awards 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on December 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ed Power

Ed Power

The ripple of excitement that passed through the room as Olivia Newton-John made her entrance confirmed that, at 68, the singer has lost none of her celebrity power.

But she twinkled rather than blazed through this unorthodox and affecting concert, billed as a meditation on grief and the long road to closure after the passing of a loved one.

The Grease star performed alongside Texas songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman and Canadian chanteuse Amy Sky (with County Down musician Ruth Trimble accompanying) and the set was dominated by the collaborative album they released last year. Channelling their experiences of loss – all three have had close family members claimed by cancer - Liv On is a heartfelt chronicling of the grieving process and was here replicated more or less in its entirety.

In a moving interlude members of the public were invited to share their own experiences of grief. One woman spoke of losing her mother and her brother within a short period (the latter to suicide); a carer at a hospice said Liv On had help him confront mortality on a daily basis.

The going was heavy at times though there was humour and even the occasional upbeat moment. Newton-John, her voice duskier than in her heyday, reprised her beloved power ballad Grace and Gratitude and Nielsen Chapman delivered a chipper rendering of This Kiss – the song that "paid for her son's college” when covered by Faith Hill. She laughed as she sang, a swell of joy in an ocean of sadness.

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