POP: Celine Dion; Earl's Court, Lonon
Tuesday 17 June 1997
The French-Canadian rock balladeer released her first album when she was 12. By the time she was 18, she had recorded nine albums of Francophone- targeted material and amassed combined sales of several million. Representing Switzerland, she won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988 with "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi". Together with her husband and manager Rene Angelil, Celine soon realised that she'd have to sing in English to reach her true commercial potential. She enroled in a Berlitz course, and this proved to be one of the wisest ever cases of speculating to accumulate.
The stage is book-ended by two huge video screens, and as the shimmering, peach-coloured curtains go up, Celine is striking a pose at the top of a stairway. She delivers the schmaltzy narrative of "The Power of Love" note-perfectly, slowly descending the stairs in a figure-hugging gold catsuit of gossamer-like material. As the video screens give us our first close-up of our hostess, the crowd erupts in appreciation of this virtual- intimacy.
Celine is in the business of tugging heartstrings for big bucks, and there's obviously enough Mills and Boon-like sentimentality at the heart of our collective unconscious to make it worth her while. Tonight we get the Oscar and Grammy award-winning theme from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. "Because You Love Me" from the film Up Close and Personal (nice, lucrative side-line in movie soundtracks there, Celine) and the gloriously affected and overblown Jim Steinman composition It's All Coming Back to Me Now. Her 10-piece band's every semi-quaver is just so, and each song's composition is formulaic, almost to the point of self-pastiche. As my friend remarked, this is Saturday night TV writ large, but even if the stage-show, choreography and general modus operandi is redolent of Stars in their Eyes on a Spielbergian budget, one would have to concede that it's all great fun.
The audience dance, whoop and make merry with that complete lack of reserve unique to thirtysomethings and small children. At one point, Celine has us all doing a Mexican wave. To my knowledge, this has never happened at a Nick Cave gig. A courting couple in the row in front greets each mega-ballad with a renewed bout of snogging, their passion crescendos in step with the peaks and troughs of Celine's vocal gymnastics. Later in the set, when the London Gospel Community Choir come on stage to lend a hand on the new single "Call the Man" (the man in question, is, I think, Christ), the snoggers sense it's time to be a little more chaste.
If the pop artist's remit is primarily to entertain, one must give Celine credit where credit's due. Perhaps we weren't all smiling for the same reasons, but I'd wager very few of tonight's audience went home disappointed. James McNair
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45
'Phallic symbols' found hidden in famous Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Isabella' by John Everett Millais
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace