Tina Arena has had an amazing four decade-long career in the music industry. Bringing her national tour to Geelong’s Costa Hall, an acoustic-perfect venue, it was humbling to witness such a consummate performer. This show displayed her consistently high quality output, exhibiting her adaptive strength, experimenting with the different sounds of each pop music era—disco, rock, synth, while still maintaining her core sound and performance integrity. It’s always been about that soaring, note-perfect velvet voice.
Working with a high-quality band, considered family, Arena’s oeuvre was revamped through exciting arrangements which brought new dimensions to her hits. Her stage presence was elegant, warm, and dignified. The audience alternated between being completely in awe, and engaged in dancing. “You’re all grinning like Cheshire Cats, so content” — she was so appreciative she could take people away with her.
Vocal highlights include the perfectly building ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’, serene and cosmic ‘Symphony of Life’, and classic ‘Burn’. Bittersweet ‘Wasn’t it Good’, was supported by a gentle beat and encouraged audience participation (“Wasn’t it good, wasn’t it fine,” indeed).
The first half of the set ended with her signature 1994 single, ‘Chains’, a highlight song that has lost none of its power.
Arena’s energetic performances stood out, dancing to the fun ‘I Need Your Body’ always spectacular and (thematically critical) ‘Sorrento Moon’; and synth-esque ‘The Machine’s Breaking Down’. Her dramatic, honestly pained Woman was visceral.
The staging and production design perfectly moved the audience through Arena’s journey. Projected montages of Arena’s career played out, and background imagery emphasised each song’s message. Her younger self’s version of MacArthur’s Park (always dignified and powerful in her hands) seamed into Arena’s entrance and performance on the stage. Each controlled note built up anticipation.
There was a moment when she walked off stage after ‘You Set Fire to My Life’, the last pre-encore song, where her younger ’90s self was projected onto the screen she walked through. Also walking through the door, this younger version stopped in the doorway to gaze at the audience. This moment perfectly tied together the “journey” she intended to take us on, as one of nostalgic celebration and looking back.
Written by Brianna Courtney Bullen