Small in stature but immeasurable in impact, Tina Arena lit up the stage and soulfully serenaded Brisbane audiences at her show at The Tivoli Theatre (6 September) in Brisbane.
As the title of her tour suggests, Arena has transitioned from innocence to understanding; not just of the industry but of herself and her journey as an artist. She has ridden the waves of adulation and pushed through the criticism to stand in her truth and sing from the depths of her being.
Her tour is about celebration, fun and the acknowledgement of her own version of success and the audience had a fabulous time. She chose songs that spanned the entire length of her career, threw in a few surprises, played with her new band and delivered beauty in the design, lighting, staging and costumes.
Her journey from the adorable eight-year-old pop princess on 'Young Talent Time' to a sophisticated female performer who knows and understands now what matters and what is important to her is showcased in this show. And along the way, she has amassed a following of dedicated, devoted fans who queued to get into The Tivoli, who patiently waited for her to come on and who cheered loudly and with fervour when she appeared.
Arena commented on the architecture of The Tivoli and pointed out that it was the perfect venue to begin her tour, surrounded by old-world design and timeless beauty.
Starting with a sophisticated bang, Arena entered the stage in a stylish white jumpsuit, eyes light and voice warmed-up to perfection and the audience was with her from the first minute on the stage.
After her entrance to centre stage, someone called out "Í love you Tina". To which she replied gently, "I love you too", before continuing on and saying, "You know I can’t talk now, I have to concentrate". Her focus is intense and it’s one of the reasons she has managed to pursue such a long career as an artist; the dedication to her craft is unrelenting.
Her stage set-up was stunning, a moving, transitioning backdrop that mirrored the lyrics and when she sang ‘Burn’ the air filled with floating candles that moved across the large visual on stage. Add to her flawless voice, her impeccable delivery and mesmerising energy a roster of gorgeous outfits and you have a complete show filled with pizazz, emotion, intelligence and beauty.
Her multiple costume changes added to the excitement of the evening and left the audience waiting to see what their Tina would be wearing next.
From the opening outfit in elegant white, to the cute, sequinned mini dress through to the magnificent black spider gown, the tailored trousers and finally the floor length and flowing tulle dance dress - Arena brought the glamour and then some. Each outfit had sequins and glitter and dazzling impact; they were the perfect choice for the star of the stage.
While Arena was off-stage during costume changes, the band members entertained the audience. On stage with Arena were two superb back-up singers and five very talented musicians from all over the world.
At one point, she mentioned how she felt so very humble to be starting her tour and this was a tour that was 30 years in the making. She said that she was so grateful to be now able to do this tour, to have got rid of the stuff that prevented her from being where she wanted to be in her life.
She pondered aloud about the direction her life had taken and how she was happy to be where she was, despite the difficulties on her life’s journey, difficulties that she never would have known when she was that little girl on 'Young Talent Time'.
She spoke about how she felt privileged and even proud of the difficult times, because through these difficulties and the pain, she has grown and now she celebrates growing old joyously as we have only one life and we need to celebrate it. This was the lead in to one of her most well known hits ‘Chains’, but now Arena sings it differently as she is now longer in chains, she is free.
The audience was spellbound by the mesmerising rendition of ‘Wasn’t It Good’; put together by Ben Abraham and Ainsley Wills and she sang her oldies: ‘I Need Your Body’ and ‘The Machine’s Breaking Down’, right through to more recent classics, including 2013’s ‘Only Lonely’ and ‘You Set Fire To My Life’.
At the end she sincerely thanked the audience for coming, for supporting her, for allowing her to “breathe new air into old songs”. The audience clapped and cheered, but Arena did not return to sing anymore after the standing ovation as she had given her heart and soul to her audience and now it was time to say goodnight.
One of Australia’s finest performers with a powerhouse yet angelic voice, this was a phenomenal evening with an often under appreciated artist. There were moments of deep emotion, quiet reflection and soaring celebration. But underneath it all ran a current of joy, and it’s a joy that Arena has earned.