Donny Osmond – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall, Thursday October 18
There comes a point in every teen idol’s career where the hits dry up and the fans drift away, leaving the former idol with some tough choices. It’s a testing time, and many – if not most – never quite recover. Donny Osmond, on the other hand, is one of the great survivors. As last night’s show demonstrated, he has evolved into a seasoned, natural performer who strikes just the right balance between unashamed nostalgia and age-appropriate maturity.
Anyone expecting a syrupy schlock-fest was in for a surprise, as Donny based much of the two-hour set around his most recent album, an intelligently selected array of classic 1970s covers. Highlights included the funky opener Will It Go Round In Circles, a polished How Long, and the astonishing show-stopper Sometimes When We Touch, whose impassioned sincerity held the audience spellbound.
But of course, with most of the overwhelmingly female audience eager to roll back the years, those old teenybop hits had to be aired. Puppy Love was played for laughs (“just because we’re… pushing fifty!”), One Bad Apple was preceded by a wicked Michael Jackson impersonation, and The Twelfth Of Never was seemingly selected from an onstage iPod.
The hysteria peaked when Donny left the stage, strode right through the stalls by perching on seat backs, and then emerged at the front of both upper tiers, singing all the while. Thirty-five years ago, he would have been torn to pieces. Judging by his relaxed smile, he no longer misses those days at all.