Celine Dion moves mountains in first metro Detroit performance in more than a decade

If you have not basked in the glow of Celine Dion in person, you may have to adjust your life goals and daily priorities to accommodate what is now, in our book, considered a spiritual necessity. 

Like the Titanic itself, you know, before the whole iceberg thing, Dion is an unmatched, larger than life icon whose vocal tenacity, polished show-womanship, and endearing charm, professionalism, and daring fashion choices were on full glittering display on Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena, where she made her first metro Detroit appearance since 2008 when she performed at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

The 51-year-old opened her two-hour, 18-song hit parade in a red sparkling asymmetrical dress — reminiscent of the one she's pictured wearing on the cover of her forthcoming record, Courage — with what felt like a surprisingly intimate rendition of her sweeping 1996 ballad “It's All Coming Back to Me Now.” Backed by a 17-piece band, including a thick string section and background vocalists, Dion commanded the sparse stage and its lifts and ramps, all of which allowed her to get up close and personal with the nearly sold-out crowd. 
click to enlarge Celine Dion moves mountains in first metro Detroit performance in more than a decade
Jerilyn Jordan

The six-minute banger was met with screaming and applause, at which she paused and clutched her heart, looking sincerely taken aback by the outpouring of love.

“You're looking just, like, fabulous,” she said. “You're looking good, your energy is so high. I don't know what's going on, but it's been more than 10 years since we were last here. Listen, listen, listen — that's way too long. I got to look into that and find what happened. And we're gonna fix this.”

She jokingly suggested she had been “locked” away in Sin City and that she has finally “escaped.” Though she may have said that in jest, Las Vegas has had a major grip on the diva as she has spent the better part of a 16-year span occupied with two massive residencies at Caesars Palace, which attracted more than 4.5 million people throughout its run. She closed the lid on her record-breaking residency in June, which has freed her up to make up for the lost time.

The French-Canadian diva donned to a dramatic tuxedo-inspired outfit, complete with oversized, billowing, white bell sleeves for a sweeping run, including “If You Asked Me To”, “The Power of Love,” and “Love Can Move Mountains” before launching into a soaring performance of “All by Myself,” and John Farnham's “You're the Voice” — which required Dion to playfully enlist some backup assistance from an enthusiastic and obedient audience. 

Also nestled in the set were a pair of songs from Courage, Dion's first English-speaking record since 2013's Loved Me Back to Life, due out Nov. 15, and her first record since the death of her husband and longtime manager René Angélil who lost his battle with cancer in 2016. Both “Courage” and “Lying Down” felt at home within the set of beloved tunes — and, if anything, perhaps they felt the most jarring because the feelings are still so visibly raw.

You can take the diva out of Vegas but you can't take the Vegas out of the diva. Dion, who appeared in a silver sequin flared jumpsuit, took a detour from the emotional balladry to deliver a flashy, upbeat medley which included David Bowie's “Let's Dance,” “Kiss” by Prince, Patti LaBelle's “Lady Marmalade,” and Queen's stadium banger “Another One Bites the Dust.”

To cap the evening, Dion's encore gave her signature Academy Award-winning blockbuster hit, “My Heart Will Go On” true first-class treatment. She emerged in a frothy, other-worldly, cloud-like white gown as a fleet of tiny illuminated drones hovered around her, darting like stars against a blackened stage, and Dion herself glowing like a goddamn angelic iceberg ready to destroy hate, pain, and fear — because if there is any takeaway from Dion's rare Detroit appearance it is this: The girl has courage.

Though it's pretty much impossible to follow up "the Titanic song," Dion did just that with a “message of peace and harmony” as she soared into a beautifully restrained rendition of John Lennon's “Imagine” which held the crowd in a meditative moment of stillness and reflection, Dion being the flame on which we directed our focus. Our shared intention? To lure Dion back to Detroit sooner rather than later because she is the last of her kind, near or far.

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