Celine Dion finally makes it to Bangkok and her fans agree it was well worth the wait
Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion is part of a rare breed of artists – a power ballad diva who despite taking time out from the spotlight has dominated the music scene for more than 30 years, and no more so than during the 1980s and 1990s.
Dion first gained international recognition in the 1980s by winning first the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in 1982 then the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988 and follow up with a series of albums, most of them in her French.
By the time the 1990s rolled around, she was recording almost constantly, both in French and English. Fans were falling over themselves to buy her new releases – the most memorable of these being 1996’s “Falling into You” and 1997’s “Let’s Talk about Love”, both certified diamond in the US, and the French language “D'eux” in 1995, which even today remains the best-selling French-language album of all time.
And then of course there was the theme song for the hit movie “Titanic” – “My Heart Will Go On”, the ultimate declaration of love – which was released both as a single and also appeared on “Let’s Talk About Love”.
Then in the late 1990s at the very height of her success, she announced she was taking time out to take care of her husband and long-time manager Rene Angelil, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Now a mother, Dion returned to the spotlight in 2002 signing a contract with the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas where she would perform nightly until 2007. She returned for a second round of shows in 2011 and is still the highest paid resident performer of all time, breaking her record of 1,000 overall Las Vegas shows in 2016.
Widowed that same year, Dion set out on the road in 2017 and is currently undertaking a world tour to support her upcoming English-language album to be released this year, marking her first concerts in Asia and Australia since the “Taking Chances World Tour” in 2008.
She closed out the Asian leg of her tour on Monday night at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani performing to a capacity crowd.
Her first concert in Thailand came with a repertoire that spanned from the 1980s to the early 2000s and incorporated plenty of Las Vegas pomp and glamour. Just as back in 2008 and again in 2017, she was accompanied by impressionist extraordinaire Veronic DiCaire.
DiCaire is famous for imitating the voices and mannerisms of many celebrities, and delighted the audience with her impressions of Dion herself, as well as Tina Turner, Adele, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Susan Boyle. She made fun of Aguilera’s vocal growl and warned the audience not to try this at home. The audience didn’t just enjoy her mimicry but also her medley of old hits from the 1980s and 1990s.
But soon it was time for the diva herself and screams from the audience were deafening as the real Celine Dion appeared on stage and walked through spotlight beams to kick off her set with “The Power of Love” and “That’s the Way It Is”.
Die-hard fans clapped their hands cheerfully as she greeted the audience with: “We finally meet. It is my very first time in Thailand and it’s amazing, thank you so much. I love you so much.
“Don’t ask me why to be so long to get here. I don’t know, Maybe I could have walked to get here. I’m so proud to spend time with you tonight, khob khun kha. It a great privilege to perform for you. I know you have been supporting my music for nearly three decades. Tonight, it is your music. Tonight, it is your concert. And I hope you and I have best time ever. Let’s have fun together, are you ready?”
Dion then went back to basics with her “I’m Alive”, got the crowd to sing along at her request to “Because You Loved Me”, then swung right into “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”. Apparently no one had thought to warn her about the Thai obsession with the mobile phone, expressing surprise at the end of “Because You Loved Me” at the lights from the devices beaming her way. “It’s amazing,” she said, before inducing her hardcore fans to sing a verse at the end of this song.
The intensity of interest was sparked by a few notes of “Beauty and the Beast” and a duet with a background male vocalist.
The concert was broken into segments to allow for changes of her gorgeous costumes.
Back on stage she invited fans to sing along to the theme song of “Dead Pool 2”. “I hear it was a major hit in Thailand and became one of the most successful movies of the year. Thank you, all of you,” she said.
She continued with a set that included “Think Twice” with mellow tones of piano and guitar, “Falling into You”, “The Reason” and “Pour que tu m’aimes encore”, the first hit single from her French-language album “D'eux" and, as she said, the biggest song of her French career.
The set list was a solid mix of her instantly recognisable hits, various covers, and medleys. Dion also performed the stunning covers of other artist’s songs, such as Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself”, which showcased her perfect pitch as the music faded away, Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” and beautiful renditions of Prince’s “Kiss” and “Purple Rain.”
“She is an amazing artist, a wonderful mother. Her name is Pink. This is a beautiful song. For me, it expresses the power and the strength to overcome any hardship that you are going through, no matter what the situation is. It is called ‘Recovering’,” she said.
Everyone in the arena fell silent, as Dion gave her poignant rendition of the number to the accompaniment of piano and strings.
She then continued with an acoustic medley of “At Seventeen”, “A New Day Had Come”, “Unison” and “To Love You More”.
As the audience was hoping, Dion closed out her 24-song set with a breathtaking rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” giving full rein to her three octave vocals and bringing tears to the eyes of many.
The cheers and the applause continued long and loud and the audience eventually got their wish as the diva returned to the stage, performing “Falling in Love with You” a cappella.
The two-hour-long concert felt like a theatrical production with her gorgeous costumes, sweeping overtures and stunning visuals and was a reminder of why Celine Dion remains today one of the most-loved performers in the world.