'Far across the distance, and spaces between us' - the line from 'My Heart Will Go On' - seems a more apt theme than ever as Céline Dion laments the decade that’s passed since her last Australian tour.
“You have been supporting my music for nearly three decades... but tonight (31 July) it’s your music. This is your concert,” she told the audience at Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
She opened with ‘The Power Of Love’, ‘That’s The Way It Is’, ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘Because You Loved Me’; really, the whole show is a self-improvement, attitude-checking delight for all the senses, with the completeness of feels.
But, as she tells us, Céline 'loves' to talk. She makes no apology for it and presents pieces of herself, basted in gratitude, to nourish and inspire. “We all feel very fortunate that we can do what we do,” speaking for the ensemble. “It’s not given to everyone.”
The first of the movie theme songs happens with backup vocalist Barnev Valsaint stepping up for the duet ‘Beauty And The Beast’; there was some tweaking on the original phrasing, but flawlessly executed.
Introducing the second, from 'Deadpool 2' with slight gushing about Ryan Reynolds, she totally endorses and praises the film but very sternly warns: “Listen to me, I’m a mamacita ok? Don’t take the children.”
If you haven’t seen the film clip for ‘Ashes’, it’s completely worth your time: both to see Deadpool in heels and for their exchange at the end. #thisthingonlygoesto11
Returning to the stage with a fitted microphone and dancer Pepe Munoz, Céline’s sensual rumba performance of ‘Falling Into You’ is a captivating exposé on how to use your whole body as an instrument: two-fold.
Following her French hit ‘Pour que tu m’aimes encore’ (‘So You Love Me Still’) the intro plays to a familiar mega hit, taking a minute to sink in… She’s about to sing one of our unofficial anthems to us, John Farnham’s ‘The Voice’.
It feels like such a Canadian-respect kind of gesture and it’s incredible to hear the packed arena singing Farnesy with Céline and her 16-piece band.
Céline shares that during the most difficult time of her life, grieving the loss of her husband René two years ago, she received a beautiful gift, a song called ‘Recovering’ written for her by P!NK. She stands by the piano to make the intimate delivery.
Musical direction by ‘Steinway Artist’ Scott Price is exceptional, here piecing together the feels of loss and sprouting them into the dynamic showcase that is ‘All By Myself’. As much as Céline’s mouth was open, I think ours were too.
The string quartet moves to centre stage where Céline joins them in a black evening dress, with a medley of Janis Ian’s ‘At Seventeen’, ‘A New Day Has Come’ and ‘Unison’, during which Céline uses her breath as the percussion… and the silence in the room is enough to hear it.
Seamlessly, principal violinist Philippe Dunnigan kicks off ‘To Love You More’, after which the band gives us a funk medley during the final costume change.
Céline emerges in a silver tinsel kind of flapper-from-space pop star outfit singing Prince’s ‘Kiss’, before guitarist Kaven Girouard is centre stage with his sunburst Tele playing ‘Purple Rain’ and Céline signals her homage to the departed pop icon, Prince.
The encore is of course the sinking ship song, which begins with her singing the piccolo part in the dark, before one of the backing vocalists plays it for real. After a huge applause that keeps her onstage, she ends graciously with an a cappella rendition of Elvis’ ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’.
Attending the show were the sisters from our homegrown pop group, Sheppard. Amy describes Céline Dion as “a true musical icon”; while Emma adds: “Her outfits were on point.”
Celine still has shows in Perth (4 Aug) and Melbourne (7-8 Aug). You’re gonna love this.