Words Jarred Tito

A truly breath-taking and heartfelt performance by Celine Dion as well as a show that left [me] and the Auckland crowd buzzing in adoration and appreciation for one of the world’s most famous and respected singing phenomena of our time. Our first glimpse of Celine was in the sensational ‘power ballad,’ “The Power of Love” as she took to the stage donning a striking golden suit that drew your gaze to her, like a sultan drawn to a bar of gold. This was the first of many costume changes and possibly one of my favourites. Gold was a fitting match for both her long awaited return to the international arena and, of course her golden voice which had the capacity crowd immediately to their feet. And if I may be very clear, her voice is still very much every bit as golden as it was 22 years ago when she last wooed a New Zealand audience.

“That’s the Way It Is”, was her follow up song which kept the crowd standing and swaying intuitively, glued to everything happening at centre stage. It was something of a phenomenon witnessing a living singing legend at work. I can understand now why fans in their hundreds of thousands travelled to experience Celine in Las Vegas for so many years. Like Elvis, she has a quality that keeps you engaged throughout. Whether it be a song or the sharing of a personal story, Celine kept everyone in the palm of her hand which is a skill, from my experiences of concerts, that not all performers exert. She’s somewhat of a story teller too and took time to share some of her comical experiences as well as some of her most personal memories. As she pointed out, “I love to sing and I also like to talk.” Her sense of humour is admirable and she’s not afraid to show you her human side, at times making funny faces and reacting to the crowd’s humour.

One of the qualities I really admire about Celine, is that she truly loves her profession. When she sings, there is a real sense that she loves to sing, and it was quite apparent with every song. Every rendition was like an individual performance in itself. Each note impeccable, every key change spot on. Which is also testament to the quality of the band and backing vocalists. Each musician, be they keys, strings, vocals or percussion was outstanding in their own right. And each was given ample opportunity to display their talents by way of duet or covering performance when Celine made quick wardrobe changes.

One such occasion was when she was joined by one of the backing vocalists to sing a duet from the movie of the same title, “Beauty and the Beast”. One of the many moments that brought the house down. Celine is not shy when awarding praise and recognition to her fellow performers. We were also treated to a guitar duet with her performance of the late ‘Prince’s’ “Purple Rain” and also a simply mouth-watering violin duet to the song, “To Love You More”. That really had the ‘Wow’ factor. Speaking of fellow performing artist, I must mention Véronic DiCaire, the opening act / curtain raiser. All I can say is that she is a singer and entertainer that you will not want to miss. A talent in her own right, she refers to herself as a Singing Mimic, that specialises in recreating voice performances of

Divas’ most famous songs. Although she has a comic edge, her voice is quite astounding. I was so glad that we got to the arena on time.

The classics kept on coming. From some of her own ‘number ones’ to some of the all-time greats, Celine continued to impress and live up to her reputation. “I’m Alive,” “Because You Loved Me,” “Pour Que Tu M’aimes Encore” (her most successful French song) and also the very definition of power ballads, “All By Myself” to name just a few, were all there. Each performed like they were encores.

Celine Dion brought a complete, uncompromised, passionate and mesmerising performance to Auckland that was completely satisfying. I have always appreciated her quality as a singer and her songs will always be amongst the best, but after seeing her live, in concert, my adoration for her ability both as a singer and person has grown. The concert and performance were so full and complete. It was like fine dining, when every course that is brought out is special and delicious and the servings keep on coming and coming. It was definitely one of the best. I am not alone when I say that I am so very glad that I had the chance to experience it.

I won’t go into the encore except to say that it’s big, and that her outfit is dazzling – possibly rivalling her first on the night. But that’s to be expected.