REVIEW | Celine Dion takes Manila by storm

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“Taking total control of the stage, Celine showed off some nicely choreographed moves when the songs call for them.

Yes, she was worth the wait.

Back in 2014, Celine Dion had to cancel an Asian tour that would have brought her up close and personal with Manila fans. In a statement, she said she had to take care of her then ailing husband, René Angélil, who passed away two years later.

Fast forward to 2018: Celine Dion finally landed in Manila as Asia is now included in her ongoing world tour. And for the fans who waited for four years to finally see her, the 50-year-old Canadian pop diva and mother of three did not disappoint.

Everything about her two-night Manila show at the Mall of Asia Arena last June 19 and 20 was, indeed, golden — and it’s not just a reference to her age. For most of the fans that braved the rains due to a threatening storm, catching Celine’s final night proved to be no-brainer as the arena’s seats were packed to the rafters.

Appearance-wise, Celine never looked more glamorous in her mostly glittering outfits. She also had the good humor to occasionally make fun of her age in her spiels. Taking total control of the stage, Celine showed off some nicely choreographed moves when the songs call for them.

Of course, her songs are the real reasons why people came to see her. And with the exception of some notable omissions (“Where Does My Heart Beat Now,” “If You Asked Me To” and “I’m Your Angel” were sadly missed), Celine delivered most of her greatest hits in note-perfect fashion.

Kicking off her show with “The Power of Love,” an earlier hit for Air Supply and the late Laura Brannigan that Celine took all the way to number one in the US pop charts, fans knew they were in for a special night.

Sandwiching lesser known hits like “That’s The Way It is” and “I’m Alive” was Celine’s second US number one, “Because You Love Me.” On a side note, Celine later erroneously made reference to Titanic (“that boat movie”) as the first movie theme song she ever recorded. She apparently forgot that “Because You Love Me,” an earlier hit, was the theme song of the film, Up Close and Personal.

Back to the concert, the big guns then started pouring in as Celine performed “It’s All Coming Back to Me” and “Beauty and the Beast,” which she performed as a duet with one of her back-up singers.

She then started quite a lengthy spiel about how actor and fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds wrote her a note to personally request her to sing the theme song of Deadpool 2 before proceeding to perform “Ashes.”

More minor hits followed with “Think Twice,” “Falling into You,” “The Reason” and “Pour que tu m’aimes encore.”

Lest we forget, Celine is from Quebec, the French-speaking side of Canada.

The singer then moved the crowd when she introduced “Recovering,” a song given to her by fellow artist Pink while she was dealing with the loss of her husband and brother who died within days of each other.

This was followed by her birit (belting) showcase, “All By Myself,” which brought the house down when she flawlessly hit those climactic high notes. Can’t help but compare Celine’s performance to that of Mariah Carey whose voice was less than overwhelming when she performed in the same venue in 2014, the same year Celine was supposed to first land here.

A string quartet was then assembled as Celine performed a medley of “At Seventeen, “A New Day Has Come” and “Unison.” Not sure if this was a high point as Celine’s vocals does not seem apt for “At Seventeen,” which was originally recorded in a lower, alto register by Janis Ian.

Another show-stopper followed with karaoke favorite, “To Love You More,” which had the audience singing along to every verse. Celine then upped the tempo with a medley of Prince’s “Kiss” and a surprisingly rocking “Purple Rain” followed by “Love Can Move Mountains” and a soulful rendition of Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” before saying goodbye.

Of course, she had to come back onstage for her encore that began with her biggest hit, “My Heart Will Go On” from, yes, that boat movie, and a poignant, stripped down reading of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” as she showed her appreciation for all the love and yes, the patience of her Filipino fans.

All told, Celine Dion’s Manila sojourn, presented by PLDT and Smart and produced by AEG Presents and Ovation Productions, was one of the better concerts in recent memory. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait for another four years to see her again here.

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