in Glasgow at the RCH/Celtic Connections Festival
Who would have thought we could get another chance to see Olivia Newton-John again on the european shores after that fabulous 2013 UK tour?
Well 2017, four years after the passing of Olivia’s beloved sister Rona, she came over again with her mulit-talented LIV ON collaborators Amy Sky and Beth Nielsen Chapman.
There are so many words to describe the impact of that concert I’ve attended at the Royal Concert Hall on January 24 in Scotland, but let me first start with the beginning of this journey.
I am not good on flying, especially when I am all by myself. But for these three Ladies any stress would’ve been worth and good to bear !
So my flight from Duesseldorf to Glasgow went very smooth with just 45 people on the plane. When I saw the green landscape of Scotland I thought „Boy, what a beautiful countryside“, but I was quite disappointed by the grey and dirty appearance of the city of Glasgow itself.
Anyway, I’ve booked a two nights stay at the Alexander Thompson Hotel, where I would be joined by my Pearls Arielle et Philippe a day later. Familiar faces like Peter and Heike, Robin or Sandra were staying there too. So we could form a little bunch of fangroup eventually.
But the day before the show I’ve met two other special people to keep my spirit up and these were Tosca and Gerko from Holland, whom I’ve met for the first time at a Zamu Event in Cologne way back in 2009.
We stayed in touch ever since and found out we’ve got a lot more in common than ONJ. So I met these guys, we picked up our tickets at the box office and they did invite me for a classic Earl Grey at the RCH Caféteria. We had a chat and later that evening we went to a lovely italian Restaurant having a tasty dinner together. The mood got us talking intensively in the manner of LIV ON while drinking a delicious bottle of Primitivo!
Like on former ONJ Journeys „sleep“ was kind of a foreign word for my body, but at least I didn’t got sick like in the UK in 2013.
My spirit was just too excited about everything. Like a child that doesn’t want to go to sleep at night, frightened about not having another day left...
January 24, the big day of my one and only Concert this time, started with a walk around the City and the Clyde River. Although the weather was quite insufficient I took some pictures to have at least a little impression of Glasgow.
Around 4 o’clock I’ve met with Tosca and Gerko again to be early at the venue catching one of those limited signed CD’s entering the Meet & Greet with Olivia, Beth & Amy. We did it. And apart from London it wasn’t as stressful to get a CD in Dublin or Glasgow from what I’ve heard so far.
The most important thing was, when we were joined by Arielle and Philippe, that we all got our CD’s. Meeting my „Frenchies“again (after four years) was like...“Oh, didn’t we meet just yesterday?“. Like with my dutch friends we get along well, with fun and very relaxed. And we knew we had at least time to spend together after the show and for breakfast the following morning.
We almost don’t need languages to communicate *lol* And Gerko was so gernerous with me that he gave me his ticket to sit more in the front. He took my 5th row ticket in the middle to take a few good pics from the perfect angle. So I was able to sit next to Tosca and not all by myself.
7:30 pm we all were sitting in our seats listening to a traditional 30 minutes set of the John Cusker Band. Very joyable music, from the heart and with very funny introductions! Back to the Lobby. – Pause-
Returning to our seats 20 minutes later and LIV ON was about to start. Olivia, Beth and Amy entered the stage very unpretentiously. Waving at the audience and introducing themselves.
The set was economical, with only guitar, piano and some electronic help from Beth’s iPad.
„My heart goes out to you“ got us all in the mood for the follwing 90 minute show. All the Ladies had their own powerful part during the concert and you could hear and feel how they like each other. Musically, but also respect themselves in the manner of artistry. Their spoken phrases between the songs were spontaneous, funny and sometimes improvised. An oblique tune here and there in the harmonies made the show appear even more real, because the songstresses told us that singing the LIV ON songs made them very emotional as well.
They sang all the songs from the album with some extras thrown in like „This Kiss“ (Faith Hill smash hit), „Phenomenal Woman“( how approprioate for my own personal fansite (http://www.phenomenal-women.kaybohlen.de), „I Honestly Love You“ and a catchy „Happy Medley“ (feat. Songs from Pharell Williams, The Comedian Harmonists, The Turtles and more).
What I didn’t know was the fact that at some point the audience would be included into the procedure of the concert. We all learned about Olivia’s overcoming cancer and tragic loss of Rona (her older sister), the death of Beth’s former husband in 1994 and her own battle with breast cancer in 2000 and the loss of Amy’s mother in 2012.
They shared these stories and asked the audience if people like to share their stories with them and the audience. I am not sure which bug bit me that night but my hand went up and Olivia said „Yes, someone in the front.“ Weston Mays, the tour manager, handed me a microphone and I was so nervous I’ve dropped my Smartphone on the floor. Tosca took care of it (thank you dear!) and I just talked a bit about my contribution to the www.onjcancercenter.org site with my LIV ON Story. And: I have that on tape !
A great memory of a special moment that I can relive anytime on my earphones now. Two more people from the audience followed with their stories and after that the Ladies went on with the songs.
The acoustic set and the intimacy of the concert, although there were at least 3000 listeners at the RCH, still amazes me. That was so different from the ONJ concerts I’ve seen so far. It was even like „Well, just let’s do it and see what happens“. No sophisticated light show, costume changes or sing- and clap-along evergreens. This was something else.
Beth and Amy participated in their own right as artists and Olivia was standing in the back and never appeared as the center of the evening. Not even a second! They were all equally placed on stage.
Beth was terribly funny and caught us all with her „Happy-Medley“. Amy rocked the house with „Phenomenal Woman“ and a tearjerking performance of „Forever Blue“ accompanying herself on the Steinway. And not to forget to mention the wonderful talent of Ruth Trimble, who did a great job on backing vocals and various instruments. As I’ve said I loved the impro-effect of the show. So the power women came back on stage for the encore (Immortality) and brought a gentleman with them, who just performed the Celtic Connections Festival two days earlier: Mr. Phil Cunningham. He added soulful flute tunes to the beautiful rendition that the Lady’s did on the 1932 peom by Mary Elizabeth Frye, which was originally titled „Do not stand at my grave and wheep“. Boy what an intense concert this was. And it was over way too soon (as usual). I didn’t take many pictures, but some audios in order to enjoy the whole concert.
Taking pictures and videos always puzzles me and to be honest, nothing is better than the LIVE thing. You can’t bottle memories, it’s just not possible. Security was strict with cameras anyway.
Of course as the lucky ones with a backstage pass we all socialised in front of stagedoor No.10 where a resolutely Weston Mays gave us instructions how to behave for the Meet & Greet. It was all very quick, but very nice.
And I was happy to be in the row with my faves: Tosca, Arielle and Philippe!!!
As it was to my turn Weston said „Please introduce yourself“, but instead he did that for me saying „This is the gentleman from Germany who told his LIV ON Story“ and I got a highly delighted „Hi Kay!“ from the Ladies. That was cute! I’ve handled them my gifts.
Just for the record: I’ve chatted with Amy briefly last year and also with Dianne Gray from the E. Kuebler-Ross Foundation and I’ve asked Dianne about a certain gift to bring which she was more than pleased about. And Olivia, Beth and Amy were all very happy with what I’ve brought: The last documentary about E. Kuebler-Ross called „Facing Death - A Film about LIFE“. It was filmed in 2002 and one of her children were involved in the making of the film. The release was a month after Kuebler-Ross’s death in september 2004. I’ve seen it way back then at the movies and have read many books from her catalogue during my cancer treatment in 2003, which was very moving and helpful to me.
All the three Ladies thanked me for my thoughtful gift, which really made me „HAPPY“ and Olivia even said „Danke schoen“ and Amy wished me continued health. There were so many other things on my mind I would have liked to say, but you know, these moments stay more in a fans’ mind than in the Stars’ mind, so to me it all was more than perfect and beyond my imagination.
We posed for a photo. I got the signed LIV ON CD to pose and the Ladies showed their (still unwrapped) DVD’s.
Olivia is so smart, she was holding the CD correctly, so that her name was readable on the photo. How thoughtful that woman is!
After the Meet & Greet our fangroup went for a very late dinner and chatted in english, french and german. And the following night was short, but at least I got my first real scottish sleeping hours thanks to the declining anticipation. The next morning we had a fun and chatty breakfast at the Alexander, before I got to leave for catching my flight back to Germany at 12 o’clock.
I must say, three months ago I was so unsure of doing this trip or not, but in the end I felt so good having had done this, because I really would have missed a once-in –a-lifetime event.
My other fan-friends got to get more impressions in London at the Union Chapel, but as a senior collector and fan that never gave me second of jealousy. I was just happy of what I’ve experienced and delighted they would have even more precious moments.
Thanks to you, my french friends, thanks to my dutch mates and thanks to Olivia, Amy and Beth for making it all so special. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen with multi-talented musicians!!!
And now: let’s live on.....