NEVER let it be said John Farnham does not fully commit when it comes to singing Grease hits with Olivia Newton-John.
It was Farnsey, not ONJ, who donned the trademark leather pants for their joint tour, which charmed Rod Laver Arena last night.
And in a night which was full of extreme joy, the Grease songs upped the fun factor to 11.
Farnham fans disappointed by the interaction-free joint tour with Lionel Richie last year get double happiness this time around.
These long-time friends quite clearly love each other’s company and spend around half of the concert singing together. And it is wonderful each time.
Farnham steps in for Cliff Richard on ONJ’s Xanadu duet Suddenly and it’s better than the original.
Livvy subs in for all of Human Nature on Every Time You Cry and the song takes on a whole new dimension.
They turn his ballad Burn For You into a duet which brilliantly changes the dynamics and both lose themselves in the moment singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it’s a reminder how neither has lost any vocal power.
But it’s those Grease anthems that see the crowd finally stretch their legs — particularly Summer Nights. Farnham’s loving channelling his inner Danny Zucco so much he forgets a key lyric at one point — he’s one of the few artists whose audience actually applaud that. He even busts out a few dance moves.
As any joint tour should, they bring out the best in each other.
She’s there to clean things up when Farnsey’s working a bit blue (a saucy dad joke about not being able to get up), he’s there to loosen her up as he unexpectedly jumps up behind her after their sassy mashup of Fever and Hit the Road Jack.
When another dud dad joke sees Farnham lose his spot in their stunning interpretation of Peter Allen’s Tenterfield Saddler, Livvy quickly gets him back on track (as does his trusty teleprompter — he’s the first to make jokes about having too many words to remember).
Most importantly, you’re watching two people having immense fun on stage and it’s infectious.
There’s just enough time for them to sing separately to make you miss the interactions.
We don’t get to see Olivia sing live on stage in Australia enough, and you’re truly spoiled when she’s got a huge orchestra behind her breathing new life into classics like Magic, Xanadu, Have You Never Been Mellow, I Honestly Love You, Hopelessly Devoted to You and the underrated A Little More Love.
And the trimmed-down Farnham is in his element with his mighty band (and that orchestra) powering through choice album cuts (No One Comes Close, Love to Shine) and national treasures (That’s Freedom, Pressure Down, Playing to Win andAge of Reason).
The concert ends with three things you never expected to see. There’s John Farnham, still in his leather strides, grinding against Olivia Newton-John as he takes the dirtier lines in Physical. And Livvy shines with her a cappella kick off to the national anthem You’re the Voice.
It speaks volumes about the lack of ego of these two superstars that they turned arguably their biggest individual hits into duets. And they provided the once-in-a-lifetime moments this show promised on paper.
The third surprise? Seeing Olivia Newton-John singing Bon Scott’s words on the final duet, John Farnham’s favourite rock song of all time, AC/DC’s It’s a Long Way to The Top. You can see in his face he lives for singing that song — he has always had good taste in music.
Farnham’s role as the Pope of Australian pop continues with a string of fans (politely) rushing the stage to get their hand kissed by The Voice, which he impressively manages to do while using said voice.
Forget what happened last year, this three hour hitfest may well be the most enjoyable joint tour you’ll ever see on our shores.