Thanks to contributor Suzanne Bunker for the following review…
There was much anticipation around the opening of the refurbished Hamer Hall, and why shouldn’t there be, after two years and millions of spent dollars? The biggest noise was around the improved acoustics of this iconic Melbourne concert hall. Tina Arena was, other than the opening night gala show, the first act to perform in Hamer Hall since it re-opened on Thursday July 26th 2012.
The ushers were nervous and slightly grumpy, apologizing and admitting to us as that it had been a big couple of days. This was a big night; the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra with one of Melbourne’s favourite daughters, Tina Arena. An apt combination to test the new, improved acoustics.
Tina’s angelic voice carried through the hall for the pleasure of the full house, receiving not only applause but standing ovations and flowers. The song choices were perfect, not only highlighting her powerful voice but all sections of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
On more than one occasion I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, Only Women Bleed, Both Sides Now and The Prayer were the main culprits. Anthony Callea made a special guest appearance for The Prayer, pointing out to the audience that he has wanted to sing with Tina since he was 5 years old! He stayed on to sing another song with her.
The second half of the show started with a medley of her more successful hits of the 90’s including the beautiful Sorrento Moon. For the medley, she was backed solely by her band and musical director, Paul Gray of Wa Wa Nee fame. The one hit missing from the medley was Chains, which she used to close the main show. With the backing of the orchestra it was a powerful version of her best known hit.
The encore consisted of Both Sides Now and Blondie’s hit, Call Me. It was during this song that Tina was able to let loose a bit with some hip swivelling moves and a few high pitched “yahs” between verses.
I walked away from this concert feeling good. The music, Tina’s beautiful, powerful voice, the atmosphere and the gratitude of the audience was uplifting; it was a perfect choice for the re-opening of this magnificent concert hall.
by Suzanne Bunker