The staying power of Celine Dion

TMU caught one of Dion’s last Caesars Palace Shows on March 13th

There is no one who has left more of a mark on the Las Vegas Strip over the last two decades than Celine Dion. That fact is proven when you realize the now-iconic Colosseum at Caesars Palace was built especially for her first residency… A New Day.

Since then, the Colosseum has been a literal musical home to A-listers including Elton John, Shania, Cher, and the Reba/Brooks & Dunn reunion concerts residency. The latter country duo was just announced as the modern era inductee in this year’s Country Music Hall of Fame class.

But no one has more gravitas on that Las Vegas stage than the Canadian born, French performer. With a voice unmatched by anyone in the world, and a stage presence antithetical to her Pop Diva status, Dion has cemented her brand as the accessible superstar. Opening her show with three numbers, “The Power of Love,” “That’s The Way it Is,” and “I’m Alive,” Dion joked with the crowd at her March 13th performance, “Please, everybody sit. You paid all that money and it comes with a seat, you know.” Her French accent making every word out of her mouth adorable and conversational.

“Because You Loved Me,” and hysterical harassment of the audience followed, with Dion goading the audience into singing the final line for her. Decked out in a gold tux with untied bow tie, she turned the stage over to her over-20-piece orchestra for an instrumental sequence.

Returning in a gold sequined dress, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” proved as rich and poignant as when it was first released 23 years ago — almost to the day — as part of her certified diamond album, Falling Into You.

Dion is obviously known for providing signature songs to soundtracks for modern classic films. But it was a song she provided to a rather contemporary film that proved the night’s most show-stopping moment: The Bond-esque “Ashes,” recorded for Deadpool 2 at the request of Ryan Reynolds. A ten minute story preceded the song, as Dion proved she was just like all those middle-aged women in her audience: she, too, harbors a secret lust for the actor.

Covers have always been an important part of Dion’s live repertoire, and this night proved no different. Her powerful rendition of the John Farnum-recorded “You’re the Voice,” brought down the house and is the most memorable performance of the night. The title track from Beauty and the Beast showed off the elegance of Dion’s voice without the forceful emotion. A quiet, beautiful touch. Her duet partner, lead background vocalist Barnev Valsaint, proved a worthy match as the Beast to Celine’s Beauty.

The orchestra had their moments too: The horn section rocked in a front-of-curtain rendition of “Sing, Sing, Sing,” and Dion’s string section showed off their prowess during stripped down versions of “A New Day Has Come” and “Unison.”

Of course, it would not be a Vegas show without all of the production value a residency engagement can bring an artist. There were the usual suspects: Moving orchestral risers, the infamously expensive Mitsubishi Diamond Vision screen, and the costume changes.

What makes this show special is how these elements blended create an intimacy. I chose to sit in the balcony so as to be able to appreciate the totality of that production value. The furthest seat from the stage at the 4,000 seat venue is only 120 feet from the stage lip.

This new residency, Celine, has been running at Caesars Palace since 2011. Gone are the Cirque Du Soleil dancers that defined A New Day. Here, the music is center-stage and Dion’s voice is unhindered by flying wires and other acrobatics.

The musicians’ risers surrounded Dion in such a way as to betray the vastness of the Colosseum stage. The lighting beams shot to the rafters and pulled those of us in the balconies right onto the stage with the superstar.

Of particular beauty was what happens when Dion sings her encore, Titanic’s “My Heart Will Go On.” As her residency is closing in June (not to mention that there are innumerable videos already online), I have no problem telling you that Dion stands atop a pedestal in the middle of a rainstorm.

And that was the perfect image to leave her audience with, for it may represent Dion herself: Between the questions she faced decades ago when she married her manager since childhood, René Angélil; the rocky start to her original residency; Angélil’s highly-publicized illness and passing; and the more recent questions about Dion’s extremely skinny appearance, her voice has always helped her rise above and weather the storm.

Celine Dion’s Heart, and the Heart of her fans, will indeed Go On.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.