She may not be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea, but there’s no denying that it’s still a treat to hear Celine Dion sing live. With so many hit singles from years gone by – albeit, some played waaay too many times – it may be easy to forget just how powerful that voice of hers is to behold. Or how much fun she is to watch on stage, doing anything – contort her face, outstretch her arms – to get the notes out. Add in Celine’s fans, who have no qualms about showing their appreciation for her efforts, and well, it’s a Show!
Last night, Ms Dion performed an intimate show at the Edison Ballroom near Times Square, as part of a gig arranged by Pandora, on the occasion of her new album coming out next week, Loved Me Back to Life. It was a rare treat too, because her contract in Las Vegas means she won’t be touring until at least after 2019.
Much has changed in the time since Celine released her previous English album, Taking Chances. The pop world is now ruled by the likes of Katy, Miley and Gaga, so I’m interested to see how she navigates through it all (especially since she told me during an interview in Florida recently, that she has an aversion to using social media). In the meantime, she’s been taking care of kids, and focussing on her Vegas residency.
But seeing her again last night just made it clear that, as trends come and go, a voice like hers can still be a constant through it all. She’s a powerhouse performing live, and there were times last night when it looked like even she was genuinely surprised at how she does it, time after time.
From the moment she entered through the front of the ballroom and made her way through the crowd, the select group of fans who’d won entry into the show didn’t stop screaming. With each note she hit, they would try top her by screaming louder. Dressed in white jeans and a white jacket with golden heels, she performed a handful of oldies – from It’s All Coming Back to Me Now to Power of Love, River Deep Mountain High, Where Does My Heart Beat Now and yes, the theme to Titanic, during which she silenced every voice in the room. The moment during All By Myself when the band stopped and it was just Celine’s pure instrument was an extraordinary reminder of just why she is who she is.
But this was also the chance for her to try out some of the new tracks, on a stage, and she seemed really excited to be performing them, high-fiving fans in the front row and smiling the biggest smiles. “Oh, you guys,” she gushed. “You’re really bringing me ‘back to life.’ ”
Loved Me Back to Life is a chorus that jolts alive when Celine belts it out onstage, and following it up, as she did last night, with Water and A Flame and At Seventeen (the Janis Ian classic) allowed her the chance to take it down a tad and remind us she’s just as good even when she’s not trying to take over the world with her vocal prowess. Water and a Flame is a touch of what can, at best, be described as the closest to edgy as Celine Dion is ever going to get. It’s a hoot to see her get into the character of the song in the recording studio.
And I know we all got tired of hearing Because You Loved Me, but leaving the show tonight after hearing Celine perform it again made me wish I had a car to sing it to myself all the way home, with complete, carefree abandon.
It’s not only a treat when Celine does it.