I first knew of Celine Dion back in the early 1990s when she reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 with the song "Where Does My Heart Beat Now". She would then follow that up with hit after hit as she became one of the divas that ruled the charts in the 1990s. She would eventually have regular shows in Las Vegas, including a five-year residency at Caesar's Palace.
Ms. Dion was first scheduled to visit Manila back in November 2014. Unfortunately, she had to cancel her whole Asian tour because of her husband's delicate health condition. When it was announced that her long-awaited concert was pushing through this year, the tickets went fast, selling out on the first day. This prompted organizers to open a second night to satisfy the great demand.
Because of the heavy traffic caused by the rains, we arrived at the MOA Arena almost 8:30 pm already. Lucky for us, there was a guest front act, who was later introduced as Veronique. We only caught her singing her final song, "I Will Always Love You" a la Whitney Houston. She is a very good singer, too bad we missed her other songs.
Glittering Celine Dion!
The concert proper started at around 9 pm with the audience whooping it up in excited anticipation. Wearing a golden Las Vegas showman outfit, Celine Dion's first song was a big one right off the bat, her #1 1994 cover of "Power of Love." Her next song was my personal favorite Celine song from 1999, "That's the Way It Is" (VIDEO). After her initial spiel, she sang her 2002 European hit song "I'm Alive," which automatically segued into another big #1 hit "Because You Loved Me." Celine's voice was effortless in singing those high notes in her signature style, which Filipino audience loved. We cheered every time she nailed a power note, or struck one of her poses. Her spiels showed her kooky sense of humor which endeared her more to her fans.
Celine and her back-up singer duet on "Beauty and the Beast"
There was an interlude of dramatic lights and music to usher Celine coming in wearing a black ballroom gown to sing the next song which was the ultra-theatrical Jim Steinman song "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (VIDEO). The video backdrop then changed into a sparkling golden chandelier as Celine began to sing the next song Alan Menken's "Beauty and the Beast," which she later said was the first of many movie theme songs she sang. She then proceeded to comically tell the story of how fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds wrote her a letter to invite her to sing the song "Ashes" for his new movie "Deadpool 2."
Celine jams with her guitarist
Celine shows off her dancing skills
The musical interlude this time featured the cello and the viola player. They were later joined on center stage by two more violinists. Celine came in wearing a short off-shoulder black dress with hair in a ponytail. With only the string quartet accompanying her, she sang Janis Ian's "At Seventeen," which segued to her own hit "A New Day Has Come". Her back-up singers then joined in to sing "Unison" (title song of her first English language album in 1990. Celine ended this set with another crowd-favorite, "To Love You More" (VIDEO) which she sang with one violinist beside her for dramatic impact. I was half-expecting Sarah Geronimo to come out and join her, but of course, that fantasy did not come to pass.
Celine belts out!
Celine's touching farewell
Of course, the audience clamored for more, and Celine returned onstage wearing a simple white evening gown with a flowing fuchsia wrap on the right side. The concert will simply not be complete without her ethereal "Titanic" hit, "My Heart Will Go On" (VIDEO). Celine made another attempt to say goodbye, but the audience applause and cheering made her stop and wipe tears from her eyes. She then obliged to sing one more final song, her cover of Elvis Presley ballad "Can't Help Falling in Love" (VIDEO) in glorious a capella, with only her pure diva vocals to send the audience off fully satisfied and thankful for a great show.