BEFORE I start, I should tell you I am not exactly a Celine Dion fanatic.
I admire her music, quirky and warm personality in interviews, but because radio stations keep playing her songs, they don’t register in my mind anymore. Blame it on the movie Titanic. It’s all coming back to me now.
So when PLDT and Smart invited media colleagues from Davao, General Santos City and Cebu to the first concert of the world-renowned Canadian singer, it was too good to refuse. Never mind if there were two storms as we touched down the airport and two other LPAs when we departed the next day.
Celine Dion Live 2018 Tour was a highly anticipated two-night event produced by AEG Presents and Ovation Productions last July 19 and 20, 2018 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. It brings her across the Asia-Pacific region, performing in seven cities which include for the first time in Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei, Manila and Bangkok. Tickets were already sold out as early as February. PLDT Home and Smart as the main presenters of the concert launched ticket giveaway promos to subscribers for a chance to watch the concert.
Our seats were in the VIP section, which offered a respectable distance from the elaborate stage. It was the second full night. She came in with opening songs “The Power of Love,” and "That's the Way It Is,” and the crowd went wild.
Singing "I'm Alive" prompted the audience to cheer and feel the same way all throughout the 2-hour performance. Celine also asked the crowd to sing along with her in "Because You Loved Me."
At this point I should be gushing about how spectacular the stage was. During her beautiful quick costume changes, backed by dazzling, 3D backdrop transitions of stunning mood lighting, explosion of colors, fireworks, a live orchestra and backup singers, the five-time Grammy-award winner’s soulful voice rang out crisp and clear throughout the night. It rendered me, a non-fan, in awe, just as others beside me, most of them coming from different parts of the country... near, far, wherever we were.
I was touched by her rendition of “All by Myself” because I knew of her devotion to late husband René Angélil, a Canadian musical producer and her manager at the same time. She was set to have a concert here in 2014 but was cancelled because of her husband’s illness. Her repertoire smoothly switched from catchy to moving, as she sang “Recovering” composed by Pink to help her through her mourning.
From her famous songs including the French “Pour que tu m’aimes,”, she sang covers as well as movie theme songs, from Beauty and the Beast and the latest from Deadpool 2 called “Ashes.”
It was quite annoying to read catty comments on YouTube clips of her performances, some saying they were lip-synched. I wanted to retort but stopped myself, knowing that her voice was so powerful and effortless as she alternated between conversing humorously with the audience and suddenly belting out high notes without a struggle, even after three decades in her glorious career and millions of albums sold.
When she sang her last song and disappeared, the crowd knew she was about to sing her most memorable movie theme song. With cheers of ‘more! more!’ she came out again in an immaculate pink and white gown humming the familiar opening flute notes of “My Heart Will Go On”. The backdrop became a deep blue underwater scene.
With mobile phones in outstretched arms, the audience kept clamoring for more, which moved Celine Dion to tears. “I’m so very happy to finally be here with you! Maraming salamat!” she exclaimed, and belted out her final acapella to Filipino fans, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Indeed, the audience, including me, couldn’t help falling into her. That’s the Way It Is.
(Jojie Alcantara is a columnist, photographer, traveler and workshop speaker proudly writing for SunStar Davao for more than two decades. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit kodakerdabawenya.com.)