Celtic Connections review: Olivia Newton-John

Celtic Connections review: Olivia Newton-John

An unexpected Christmas present of tickets to see Olivia Newton-John perform ‘LIV ON’ stage at Celtic Connections 2017 at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall main auditorium on Tuesday 24 January, turned into an unusual but rewarding experience.

It was in fact to promote a new collaborative project called ‘LIV ON’.  This is a CD which came to fruition the way many of the best do – via a series of conversations between friends about what matters most in life:  Love, Loss, Hope and Healing.

A survivor of her own cancer in 1992, Olivia Newton-John founded the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre in Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.

The death of her sister from brain cancer was the inspiration for the writing of many new songs together with Canandian singeron-j-2-cc2017-2 songwriter Amy Sky who lost her husband to cancer, and Nashville singer songwriter Beth Neilson Chapman, who lost her mother.

The connection between them was quite palpable onstage and all three tackled the challenges of coping with the loss of a loved one, the importance of end of life care, and the subsequent process of healing the grief.

At the Celtic Connections performance, the second concert of their tour, Olivia displayed her star charisma creating an atmosphere where the emotional and sometimes distressing issues were brought into reality by the three girls sharing their own experiences with the audience.

Accompanied only by acoustic guitar and piano, they enthralled the listening audience with songs that were both meaningful and inspiring: “Liv On”, “My Heart Goes Out to You”, “Stone in my Pocket” and “I will Take care Of You”.

Amy Sky performed a heartfelt solo of the Maya Angelou poem Phenomenal Woman that she put to music. Beth Chapman shared her wonderful song “The Kiss” which she wrote for Faith Hill and the audience loved Olivia’s rendition of “I Honestly Love You.”

The trio also invited members of the audience to share their experiences, which was quite enlightening and inspiring.

They culminated the show by welcoming Phil Cunningham to the stage to provide accompaniment to their finale “Immortality.”

I must also applaud a great first half performance by the John McCusker Band who entertained an enthusiastic crowd with their reels and airs, together with guest vocalists Heidi Talbot and Adam Holmes.

Altogether an uplifting and rewarding concert.

Norman Ross

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