Céline Dion: The Show Must Go On

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Photo: Shirley Nadeau

Images of Céline Dion were projected on large screens on both sides of the stage during her first performance at the Videotron Centre. 

Céine Dion, reigning queen of the concert stage, performed five amazing concerts in Quebec City between August 20 and 27. 

For her first performance at the new venue, the Videotron Centre was packed to the rafters with some 14,000 people on Saturday evening. Under the blazing summer sun, admirers waited some two hours at Place Jean-Beliveau, in front of the Centre, to welcome the divine Céline to Quebec City. 

People were admitted into the building one hour before the concert was scheduled to begin, and the audience was abuzz with excitement as they waited to see their favourite star perform live. Three women sitting behind this journalist had driven all the way from Marystown, a small community on the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland, to see their idol. Why? “Because it’s at the top of our bucket list!” they said in unison. 

The show began promptly at 8:00 p.m. with comedian/impressionist André-Philippe Gagnon, who did a superb job of impersonating the singing voices of famous celebrities through the ages. From Paul McCartney to Joe Cocker, Tom Jones to Engelbert Humperdink, and many more, each one was spot-on. A short break gave everyone time to buy another beverage, and then it was showtime! 

With little fanfare, Céline quietly appeared on stage, wearing a simple black pantsuit glittering with sequins and rhinestones, and sang a capella an excerpt from “Trois heures vingt,” which was played at her husband René Angélil’s funeral just over six months ago. The enormous crowd went wild and Céline was visibly moved by the reception she received. Many of the songs she sang were filled with emotion, such as “Encore un soir” and “Et je t’aime encore.” She dedicated many songs, such as “Because You Loved Me,” to her late husband, who made her the mega-star she is today. 

There were no fancy costume changes, as Dion is famous for at her shows in Las Vegas. She remained on stage for two solid hours, not leaving once, saying she wanted to spend the entire evening with her fans. About half-way through the show, as things heated up, she did remove the jacket to reveal a sleeveless matching top. 

Accompanied by an impressive 29-musician orchestra and three back-up singers led by pianist Scott Price, the 48-year old Dion gave a performance that was both powerful and sombre. 

At one point, to lighten the mood she chatted to the audience about her children, 15-year old René-Charles and 5-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy, and about how much they were enjoying their visit with their extended family in Quebec. Having grown up in desert-dry Las Vegas, the boys were ecstatic about the great, green Canadian outdoors and all the wonders it held for them, such as star-watching at night, catching frogs, fishing, picking blueberries and eating crabapples and way too much corn on the cob. . . 

After singing “The Show Must Go On,” Dion’s eye was caught by a visibly handicapped young girl in the front row. She took the time to bend down and hold her hand as she sang and eventually she came down from the stage to give the girl a warm hug. 

Céline performed 23 songs, seven of them in English, before coming back to give three encores. “My heart will go on” and “Il suffisait d’aimer” touched many hearts and she finished simply with “Vole.” the words of one verse are: “Vole, vole mon amour, Puisque le nôtre est trop lourd, Puisque rien ne te soulage, Vole à ton dernier voyage.” Not a dry eye in the house!

And when they got home, the three women from Newfoundland put a big check mark next to “See Céline Dion perform live in concert” on their bucket list.