Last night’s Olivia Newton-John concert at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theatre was the latest stop on my personal ‘Divas (To See Before They Die) Tour.’ The Aussie singer-actress took her place alongside such legendary ladies as Tina Turner, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin, all of whom I’ve had the chance to see in concert in recent years.
While I was easily cajoled into joining my friends’ Olivia Newton-John fan club in the third grade — when “Physical” was hot — I’ve never followed her career with any real fervor. Even back then, I think we had a total of two meetings, tops. Had I been a few years older, my connection to Newton-John would probably be stronger, at least as evidenced by the sold-out crowd last night, full of enraptured gay men, many of whom jumped to their feet after nearly every song.
Performing a two-hour long setlist that spanned her 40 years in music (and movies), including an extended section celebrating her success on the country charts, Newton-John was in superb voice. But though she treated us to so many tunes, she skipped past her last three top 5 pop hits. Missing were “Make A Move On Me” (the follow-up to her massive #1 hit, “Physical”), “Heart Attack” (even if I don’t love it now as much as I once did), and 1983′s “Twist Of Fate.”
“Twist Of Fate” was one of three singles from the soundtrack to 1983′s Two Of A Kind, in which Newton-John reunited on screen with her Grease co-star John Travolta. Since she included a three-song Grease celebration last night, I thought she might spare a moment for her second Travolta pairing, even if it wasn’t such a box office success.
I didn’t think their #3 Adult Contemporary duet, “Take A Chance,” would make the cut (even with a Travolta stand-in, as with the Grease songs), nor “Livin’ In Desperate Times,” which eked out a #31 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. But “Twist Of Fate” crackles with such energy — and a chorus that cannot be denied — that hearing her sing it live last night would have certainly spurred me to stand up. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Co-written by Peter Beckett of Player (“Baby Come Back”) and Steve Kipner (“Genie In A Bottle,” “Fight For This Love”) and produced by David Foster, “Twist Of Fate” spent two weeks at #5 at the very start of 1984.