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Concerts [ 1999 ] part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7
On September 20, 1999 Celine Dion performed at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo, USA with the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour". The concert was originally scheduled for mid April but was cancelled so Celine could be with her manager and husband Rene Angelil, who was recovering from skin cancer. According to some reviews, "finally, Celine came to Buffalo". After the postponement of her first concert, Celine, one of pop´s reigning divas, brought "the voice" to Marine Midland Arena for an anxious sold-out crowd. She opened the show with "Let´s talk about love", the title cut from her multiplatinum album. She was dressed in a tight white jumpsuit, decorated with silver sequins, which made her stand out from her musicians and backup singers, who were all wearing black. Some local flavor was added when the School of Performing Arts children´s choir was brought on stage to help Celine sing the chorus to the opening number. Celine sang for two hours, performing one hit after another. According to Anthony Violanti from the Buffalo News, Celine´s teary eyes looked real on the concert of September 20 as she turned a packed Marine Midland Arena into a combination pity party and rollicking concert extravaganza. "I´m a little nervous but I want you to know that if I´m here tonight, it´s because everything is all right", Celine said early in her two-hour show. The concert was filled with the usual arena pop show trappings including grandiose sets, laser lights and ego-stroking chatter to go along with a virtual duet with Barbra Streisand, the Bee Gees and a mock "Titanic" finale. "The last few months have been pretty rocky and difficult for Rene and myself", Celine told the hushed gathering of worshiping fans. "But he´s shown so much courage in getting the treatments and I´m so proud of him. I love him so much". Celine made a regal entrance dressed in a flowing, white kimono on a platform that slowly rose from beneath the middle of a heart-shaped stage. At first, she stood alone in the center of the stage and belted out the opening notes of her power ballad, "Let´s talk about love". Soon, Celine was joined by her band. But that wasn´t all. A group of youngsters ran up on stage and formed a circle around Celine as she sang. She stood in the middle, twirling and swirling like an angelic cheerleader. That, in a nutshell, is Celine´s magic. She´s able to take maudlin kitsch and make it seem straight from the heart to her fans. This concert wasn´t all tears and ballads. Celine shed her kimono to reveal a tight pair of white slacks and silver metallic top. She vamped her way around the stage to the second number, "Declaration of love". Celine, willowy and rail-thin, seemed taller and larger than life. She showed a dancer´s edge to her moves and was sultry and elegant. But her booming voice was made for love songs. She brought down the house with a couple of soul-stirring ballads from the past: "Because you loved me" and "It´s all coming back to me now". Then, Celine, got back to a bouncy mood. She introduced Sabres´ star Dominik Hasek, who was sitting in the crowd. "Where are you Dominator?", Celine asked. Hasek took a bow as Celine said, "I shook his hand and let me tell you something, the kid is in shape". Celine wasn´t finished with sports talk. "What about Doug Flutie and the Buffalo Bills! Whoa, what a game. We´re going to the Super Bowl". The highlight of the night was when she toned down the glamour and lights and stood center stage for a moving acoustic set. Celine´s vocals were riveting as she sang what she called her personal favorites, including Roberta Flack´s "The first time ever I saw your face"; "Because" by the Beatles; Eric Clapton´s "Tears in heaven"; and closed with Frank Sinatra´s "All the way". The only lull was a labored virtual duet with a film version of Barbra Streisand on "Tell him". Celine made up for that with a raucous tribute to the Bee Gees and "Saturday Night Fever". She changed into a gray pantsuit and turned the arena into Buffalo´s biggest disco. No concert with Celine would be complete without "My heart will go on" from the hit film "Titanic". The stage set included what looked like a boat railing as Celine, dressed in a pink gown, came on board to sing the never-ending love song. Opening act Corey Hart put on a rousing performance.
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On September 24, 1999 Celine Dion performed at the FleetCenter in Boston, USA with the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour". This was the third concert Celine gave in Boston with this tour. The two first concerts, inaugurating the tour, took place on August 21 and 22, 1998. According to the music critic Joan Anderman from The Boston Globe, Celine propels herself around a heart-shaped stage with gestures that are as crisp and concise, as brisk and gracefully studied as her vocal licks. She pauses in perfect intervals to feel the love, to soak up a standing ovation, to wipe away a runaway tear - all of which came three songs into her set, when she addressed the recent news of her husband´s cancer by saying, "If ´'m here, it´s because everything is OK". Celine Dion is a true-blue diva. She can visit Boston twice during the same tour (she opened this worldwide roadshow at the FleetCenter just over a year ago), duplicate the concert tune-for-tune, most likely note-for-note, probably for the same audience, minus 1,000 or so. The concert wasn´t, surprisingly, a sellout. "She sort of got lost in the Backstreet Boys craze", the FleetCenter´s Jim Delaney said. But the teenage idols were long gone and forgotten Friday night (September 24, 1999), as Celine delivered the goods for grown-ups. As befits her status, the evening began with a miniature overture - angelic choral tones that hinted ever so slightly at the ''Titanic'' theme, now also the Celine theme. Searchlights scanned the arena, anxious for a star to alight on, and finally Celine rose from the stage, resplendent in a stark cream kimono. She launched right into "Let´s talk about love", the title track from last year´s gazillion-selling album, joined midway by a group of children in shorts and sneakers who looked altogether too young to be talking about love at all. It was the sort of theatrics most ntertainers save for a second-half climax. Celine was in beautiful voice. But pristine as her instrument is on a power ballad, Celine´s shimmery soprano doesn´t always translate to other genres, especially in a far-less-forgiving live setting. On "Declaration of love", her minor disco-rocker, Celine sounded downright shrill and overreaching. She shows her greatest depth on the treacliest  numbers. Celine literally rescues songs like "Because you loved me" and "It´s all coming back to me now" with her sheer mastery of tone and tempo, with her utter control navigating the frothy emotional whitewater. A six-piece band, as capable and unobtrusive as a pit orchestra at an awards ceremony, supplied the instrumental tracks to Celine´s vocalizing, and three stupendous harmony singers nearly stole the spotlight on several occasions, among them a thick, smoky jazz arrangement of Sinatra´s "All the way", performed during an acoustic set of Celine´s favorite tunes. Roberta Flack´s "The first time ever I saw your face", the Beatles´ "Because", and Eric Clapton´s "Tears in heaven" worked like a double-edged sword, however. They showcased Celine´s ability to put a distinctive stamp on a famous cover song (no simple feat), but also suggested just how much more gratifying it would be if she filled her own repertoire with richer material. Time seems to have stood still for Celine´s fellow Canadian Corey Hart, who churned out mild pop-rock hits ("Sunglasses at night", "Never surrender") in the ´80s. It was a perfectly matched bill, one that  delivered a very lucky Hart straight back into the arms of his audience.
On September 25, 1999 Celine Dion performed at the Providence Civic Center in Providence, USA with the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour". According to Vaughn Watson from The Providence Journal, it´s not as if Celine had to, but she did tell a sold-out audience the Saturday night of September 25, 1999 at the Providence Civic Center how she and her husband, Rene Angelil, are faring since Angelil was diagnosed in the spring with skin cancer. The diagnosis led Celine to postpone her planned April concert in Rhode Island. "If I´m here tonight", Celine said onstage, "it´s because everything is all right". With things in order, Celine, who emerged as a leading ´90s pop diva, brought a performance with abundant charm and adequate singing strength. Divas like drama. That´s why Celine made a grand entrance as colored lights twirled and the heroic instrumental from "My heart will go on", the "Titanic" theme song played. Celine rose out of the stage floor on a dais. Performing on a well-used heart-shaped stage that offered 360-degree sight lines (albeit several times of her back), Celine showed in such songs as "It´s all coming back to me now" that her work is unabashedly maudlin. Yet in a twist to love ballads she´s known for, Celine filled her stage show - to mixed effectiveness - with other musical styles. She swapped uptempo songs with slower ballads that allowed her to display more vocalism. But her reggae lilt in "Treat her like a lady" was goofy. Each of three costume changes introduced new plot lines to the highly choreographed show. Such production effects as a glittering disco ball and a costume change to bell-bottoms made Celine´s rendition of "Stayin´ alive" amusing, but it ran too long and was a needling distraction. The song nearly derailed the show - but didn´t. Celine is criticized for not writing her own songs. Indirectly, she addressed that onstage, saying, "There´s so many beautiful songs". Then, she sang songs of Eric Clapton and Roberta Flack, giving them such a fine interpretation that it´s too bad that element of the show didn´t run longer. Celine´s confident "The first time ever I saw your face", a song recorded by Flack, was particularly stirring. Celine played The Bee Gees and Barbra Streisand on videotape to perform duets, rather than carting in unknown back-up singers. Here, Streisand on tape, rather than Celine onstage, turned in one of the most buoyant singing efforts in "Tell him". Celine also piped in violinist Taro Hakase on videotape. Hakase gave the instrumental performance of the night, allowing his instrument to trade vigorous lines with Celine´s voice. Opener Corey Hart warmed up the crowd with a set slow to the punch, but he eventually delivered ample pre-grunge rock.
On September 27, 1999 Celine Dion performed at the Value City Arena in Columbus, USA with the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour". According to Curtis Schieber from The Columbus Dispatch, Celine rose from her heart-shaped stage in the middle of the Value City Arena like an angel. To the capacity crowd, she was. Feeling as much like an old-fashioned revival as a concert, Celine´s show offered a simple mixture of blind optimism and show-biz love. Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau theorized to The Dispatch recently that the film "Titanic" was a blockbuster because it contained not one shred of irony. Which explains why Celine and the film were perfect partners for the movie´s theme "My heart will go on". It also explains the near-religious fervor that fans expressed for the singer during the concert, as she gave the emotionally hungry something to hold on to. Celine opened the show with "Let´s talk about love", from her hit album of the same title. She stuck to the suggestion nearly all of the night, offering simple platitudes about love´s salvation in song and in between. The message had little variation. Even Carole King´s "The reason", which includes a verse interjecting doubt, found its place among the wailing odes to love that filled the evening. Thankfully, the singer varied the tempos more than a few times. "Treat her like a lady" showed she can sing soul; the Beatles´ "Because" showed good taste. The nonstop bombast was marked by technical flash and a couple of guest appearances, most notably by Barbra Streisand - on video. The name-dropping scheme allowed Celine a duet which was showy but wasn´t complimentary, as Streisand´s rich timbre outshone Celine´s. The opening selection featured a singing circle made of the Columbus Children´s Choir. The singer´s much-heralded vocal chops weren´t the mark of perfection. Sailing high and even reaching low, she rang notes like a tuning fork - that is, the notes were as long as they were loud. Short, quieter notes revealed a slipping intonation, which wouldn´t be a problem with most singers. But most pop singers don´t do duets with Luciano Pavarotti. All in all, Celine re-created the magic that has made her a star of astronomical proportions with a show that was as much a tribute to the power of positive thinking as a celebration of song. A rousing reception met 1980s hitmaker Corey Hart, who summed up the impact of his set best as he left the stage, thanking the audience for "remembering me".
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On September 29, 1999 Celine Dion performed at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, USA with the "Let´s Talk About Love Tour". According to some press reviews, everyone expected nothing less than a grand star entrance to the stage, along with a "Titanic" performance. The crowd was not disappointed, since that´s  just what her Majesty Dion gave to her concert listeners. A jewel of a performance. The regal Celine ascended on the Omaha round, heart-shaped stage by rising slowly but elegantly from it´s center of pulsation, engulfed in glowing spotlights and mystical fog. The stage and royal entrance was as radiantly majestic as the entire concert. You could feel the excitement of audience (over 9,500 people) with their rousing applause and cheers. Their anticipation and expectation for a spectacular show was being fulfilled by Celine, wearing a stylishly-daring, white kimono as she rose from the center of the stage singing "Let´s talk about love". Local children also joined her on stage to join her in this song, which is the title track of her last hit album. After the first song, the French-Canadian diva quickly removed the kimono to begin a rousing, uptempo version of "Declaration of love". With her band and back-up singers, Celine also sang "Because you loved me", which seemed to especially delight her excited fans. Celine said, "It´s about time I came here", referring to another Omaha concert that was canceled earlier in the year so she could spend time with her manager and husband, who was going through treatment for skin cancer. Celine also said, "I want you to know", ..."If I am here tonight, it´s because everything is all right". The audience showed their thanks to Celine with several standing ovations, along with giving her many bouquets of flowers and cards. Celine - in the same style of Tina Turner, James Brown and Elvis Presley, let her voice rock the roof with many songs, including; "It´s all coming back to me now". During her two virtual duets with Barbra Streisand, for the song "Tell him" and for her Bee Gees song, Celine inspired loud cheers as she sang her part live, as her duet partners appeared on pre-recorded video, which could be seen on four huge screens surrounding the stage, as well as about 10 huge TV monitors that surrounded the stage floor. One of the most striking segments of this performance was when Celine acoustically sang a few of her "favorite songs". The crowd heard a very sweet version of the Beatles´ "Because", Frank Sinatra´s "All the way", a subtle version of Roberta Flack´s "The first time ever I saw your face" and Eric Clapton´s "Tears in heaven". Celine´s voice was right on the mark, a  musical "bullseye" with her rendition of these songs. After a fast change of clothing, Celine appeared again in a pink gown to sing her very well-known "My heart will go on", the "Titanic" hit, from the movies soundtrack. As Celine reached the climax of the song (on the bow of a ship-like stage, rails, wind and all) so did the crowd with their own "Titanic" round of applause.
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