On the scene: Celine Dion live in Las Vegas. Holograms, Michael Jackson, and more!
Back in March, when Celine Dion’s new show “Celine” opened in Las Vegas, my colleague Tanner Stransky posed a very important question: Will you make it to Sin City to see it?
As a huge (non-closeted) Celine fan, I gave a resounding “yes!” and began my Celine countdown. To say I was excited would be an understatement. So I rounded up some travel partners (otherwise known as my mom and grandmother), and we left for Sin City with only one thing on our agenda—see Celine live at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. (Seriously. We had no other plans.)
Before the show started, I chatted with a publicist for The Colosseum who told me, “well, if you’re already a Celine fan you’re going to love the show. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. It will be great.” I figured I’d enjoy the show. But laugh and cry? Probably not. Famous last words…
I had seen Celine once before on her Taking Chances World Tour, and she sang only her own music, so I was pleasantly surprised that last night’s show included a number of non-Celine classics. She opened the show with Journey’s “Open Arms,” then took it way back to the basics with her “Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” got the crowd to sing along at her request to “Because You Loved Me,” and then went right into “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” I’m so used to botching this song during karaoke, it was refreshing to hear it as it’s meant to be heard. She finished off the first set of songs with “I’m Your Lady.” Yes you are, Celine. Yes you are.
For her next round of tributes, the vocal powerhouse scatted to Ella Fitzgerald’s “(If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have To Swing It.” Who knew Celine could scat? And then came Billy Joel’s “Lullaby (Goodnight My Angel),” and me in tears. I know—I’m that girl, the one who cried in the middle of a Celine Dion concert, but I couldn’t help myself. The song was paired with a slideshow of Celine and her kids, and it totally got me. In my defense, pretty much everyone around me was crying. In fact, I was still trying to recover so I hardly paid attention to “The Reason.” Blasphemy!
Things really perked up when the orchestra started playing Bond theme music big-band style as Celine exited the stage for one of her many costume changes. She returned to sing “Goldfinger,” made famous by Shirley Bassey. Next came a truncated version of “Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon which led right into “Live and Let Die. Yep, even Paul McCartney got the Celine treatment.
When Celine appeared for her next song, she looked slightly different. I was about to brush it off until I realized the real Celine was actually out in an aisle of the auditorium;wWhat I had been seeing on stage was actually a hologram of Celine! Real Celine and Hologram Celine were both there to sing “How Do You Keep the Music Playing.” A duet with herself. Why didn’t I see that coming? Not to be outdone, Hologram Stevie Wonder appeared out of thin air—because holograms can do that—and sang with the songstress on “Overjoyed.”
Celine slowed it down again for her take on Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” (Her backup singer took over duet duties for this one. No more hologram people were seen the rest of the show.) The visual team even recreated the chandelier/ballroom look from the scene in the movie
. It really took me back; I half expected to see Mrs. Potts or at least a talking French candlestick. And speaking of French, Celine decided to sing in her native tongue for the next number: Roughly translated, I think the song title is “If You Go Away”? I didn’t understand anything she said, but it was one of the most intensely emotional performances I’ve ever heard. Celine struggled to get through it. You could see it on her face, and in between phrases, you could have heard a pin drop in the giant auditorium. Her voice wavered slightly on the very last line, and she had to wipe tears away during the audience’s applause. If only I spoke French!
“All By Myself” was next up on the queue, and Celine reminded me that no one does the sing-and-point quite like she does. The song got the singer her first full-auditorium standing ovation. All of the led to what was, easily, my favorite part of the night—a tribute to the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
It started with three cellists playing a medley of Michael that included “Smooth Criminal,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller.” Celine launched right into his “Ben” and then “Man in the Mirror.” (Fun fact: Celine said seeing Michael on TV when she was 15 is what encouraged her to learn to sing and speak in English.)
Celine ended the night with her own “Love Can Move Mountains,” and “River Deep, Mountain High.” It was by far the most high-octane part of the evening—Celine even broke down her microphone stand and twirled it like a baton before saying goodnight. But of course came back for a stirring performance of “My Heart Will Go On” because, really, no Celine show is complete without it.
Maybe Celine Dion isn’t your thing. And while she’s clearly mine, it’s hard to go wrong with her powerhouse vocals and song selection. The hotel may be called Caesars Palace, but The Colosseum belongs to Celine.
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