Celine Dion dazzles Pinoy fans with powerful, poignant concert
As she was about to caress the final phrase of her hit power ballad “Because You Loved Me,” Celine Dion let out a run—a relatively simple one, but sweet and feathery just the same.
And the audience, as if on cue, began cheering and clapping.
“OK, calm down, people,” Celine, rolling her eyes and holding her hand up, jokingly said. “That wasn’t that hard.”
It really wasn’t. Although she has been singing professionally for almost 40 years now, the integrity of her voice—which made her one of the most influential vocalists in pop music—has remained largely intact.
“She sounds as good as she does on record!” gushed not a few of her devoted Filipino fans who, after years of waiting, could finally draw such comparison.
“We made it… we finally made it! It’s my very first time in the Philippines, and it feels amazing,” she told the packed crowd during the second night of her Manila stop at the SM Mall of Asia Arena last week. “Don’t ask me why it took me so long to come here. I don’t know. I guess I live too far away!”
Canceled 2014 concert
Celine was supposed to hold a concert in the country in 2014.
However, health and personal issues forced the 50-year-old music icon to go on an “indefinite hiatus” that year.
“But I’m just so happy to be here tonight, and I want to thank all of you so much for your patience throughout the years. Maraming salamat!” she said.
“You have been supporting my music for nearly… wait, hold on… three decades now,” added Celine, who spent the first 10 years of her career in Canada, before going international in 1990. “It’s either you’re a bit crazy or simply extraordinary.”
The night’s repertoire leaned toward grand and soaring love ballads that demand vocal and emotional heft: “The Power of Love,” “To Love You More,” “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and “All By Myself.”
Celine was up to the task. She sounded robust, scaling stratospheric notes and sustaining them for seconds with nary a quiver.
She likewise showed off her agility as she maneuvered intricate melismatic passages—all of which were dispensed with her signature nasal tone that’s more pronounced these days.
But while the show—mounted by Ovation Productions and Smart Music Live—was filled with bombastic singing, there was a smattering of gentler, more intimate moments.
The acoustic medley of the songs “At Seventeen,” “Unison” and “A New Day Has Come,” for instance, had Celine trading her flashy tuxedos and gowns for an understated black dress.
This time, sitting down and bantering with her string quartet, she was earnest and controlled.
And to dilute the schmaltz dripping off her own material, she put on her rock star hat and covered a spirited mashup of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and “Kiss.”
As the fans waved their lighted phones about, Celine banged her head and strummed an imaginary electric guitar, all the while using her searing head tone to mimic guitar riffs.
The event, which was attended by an older, well-heeled audience, exuded almost a sense of formality at times.
But Celine knew how to loosen things up.
She was surprisingly quirky onstage, making faces, fist-pumping, thumping her chest and making sudden Flamenco-like arm flicks in the middle of otherwise sober numbers.
She related amusing anecdotes, like how she thought she would be asked to act and do “intense love scenes” with Ryan Reynolds in “Deadpool 2,” whose theme “Ashes,” she performed afterwards.
But between the fun and laughter, Celine made time for some introspection.
Before a poignant delivery of “Recovery,” she recalled how the song—written by Pink—helped her grieve and cope with the loss of her husband, René Angélil, two years ago.
“[It tells us that] we have the power and strength to overcome any hardship,” Celine said. “It really helped me pull through one of the most difficult times of my life.”
You would probably think that, by now, Celine is used to her fans’ outpouring support and displays of adulation.
And yet, she ended her performance of “My Heart Will Go On” with her hands clasped and mouth agape, as if saying, “Is this for real?”
But despite all her successes, Celine isn’t one to take the littlest things for granted.
“I’m blessed to be doing this. Singing is all I know; it’s what I have been doing all my life, and I love it so, so very much,” she said. “Having the opportunity to do what you love isn’t given to everyone. That’s why I feel blessed and privileged to be doing this in front of you.”