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Concert Reviews:
Celine Dion makes up for time away at Little Caesars Arena

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2019

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DETROIT -- When she took the stage Tuesday night, Nov. 5, at Little Caesars Arena, it had been 11 years and one week since Celine Dion last played in the metro area (at the Palace of Auburn Hills).

Who was counting? Well, some of the fans who filled Little Caesars, as evidenced by signs they carried. And Dion herself, who noted early in the show that, "I don't know what's going on. It's been more than 10 years since we were last here. That's we too long...We're gonna fix this!"

Much has happened for, and to, Dion during that interim, of course. She was "locked...up in the Nevada desert" with her groundbreaking residency at Caesars Palace. She also lost her husband, manager and mentor Rene Angelil, in 2016 -- which Dion made tacit mention of on Tuesday while introducing the title track from her new album, "Courage," which comes out Nov. 15.

So at Little Caesars Dion, stick-thin and well-conditioned, was out to make up for lost time and also have a good time, missions she fully accomplished over the course of a crisp, visually dazzling nearly two-hour concert, celebrating her long (38 years) career with plenty of favorites, a few well-deployed surprises and a half-dozen mostly glittering outfits.

Most of all Dion demonstrated that her greatest asset, her voice, was in as fine a form as ever. What separates the Canadian-born singer from most of her other diva peers is taste; She knows just how long to hold a note, just how much to modulate, just the right way to phrase her lyrics. Dion eschews vocal acrobatics in favor of fluid, melodic singing that feels robust even in the most delicate moments.

She's not the only one with pipes, but Dion knows how to use hers -- arguably better than most everybody else.

Those virtues were fully on display Tuesday, from the moment Dion hit the stage with her 17-piece band -- with three backing vocalists, horn and string sections and a kilt-wearing guitarist who looked like a "Game of Thrones" refugee. Sporting the tight-fitting, sequined red dress from the "Courage" album cover, she delivered an opening barrage of hits -- "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," "That's the Way It Is," "I'm Alive," "If You Asked Me To" and "The Power of Love" -- while navigating the arena-wide stage's network of lifts, stairs and ramps that brought her, yes, near and far to her fans.

Less chatty than in previous shows -- though her instructional introduction to "The Prayer" was longer than the song itself -- Dion also delivered her new single, "Lying Down," dueted with one of her backing singers on "Beauty and the Beast," engaged in some bi-lingual blues via "Tous les blues sont ecrits pour toi" and showed a touch of fellow Vegasites Cirque du Soleil as she bounced around during "You're the Voice." And a medley of David Bowie's "Let's Dance," Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," Prince's "Kiss," Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" and Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" was good, if random, fun, adding some dance party energy that's not routinely part of Dion's ouvre.

She even managed to make the played-out "Titanic" smash "My Heart Will Go On" interesting with a squadron of lighted drones that circled above the stage, with Dion encased in an equally overdone white, fluffy gown.

Dion ended the night on an earthier note with John Lennon's "Imagine" which, to her credit, held the vast majority of the crowd after the Big Hit. And the house lights had barely gone up when those fans started imagining the next time they'd see her -- hopefully before, say, the fall of 2030.

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