When Celine Dion performs her peerlessly successful show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, she spends a lot of time standing at the very edge of the stage. That’s a little bit unusual. Her colleagues in the world of Las Vegas Strip resident headliners generally spend more time dancing around, or in Elton John’s case, seated at the piano. Dion dances a bit, but mostly sings, of course, and after 11 years’ worth of shows, she’s still inching closer to the edge of the stage, reaching out to connect with her audience as deeply as she possibly can.
Dion just added new shows in March through June in 2018, with tickets on sale Friday, November 17. I caught show 1,062 on Tuesday night, November 7, the night she sauntered over to Omnia Nightclub after her show to sing “My Heart Will Go On” during Las Vegas resident DJ Steve Aoki’s set as part of a benefit that raised more than $1 million for the Las Vegas Victims Fund.
Early in her Colosseum show, when she was almost done with the 1996 hit “Because You Loved Me,” she stopped the song to acknowledge a middle-aged couple that had been slow-dancing in the aisles. She called them closer, found out they were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and tried to stop the wife from bawling like a star-struck teenager:“Don’t cry. It took you hours to put yourself together!” It was the kind of memorable moment that creates warm, sentimental feelings among fans or causes cynics to question whether the people were planted in the audience for maximum effect.
But Dion’s performance is so open, earnest and vulnerable, such skepticism is out of place. At 49, the Canadian icon’s voice sounds exactly the same as it did in 1990, which you can tell when she sings “Where Dows My Heart Beat Now” early in the show, one of her earliest English-language hits that was released that year. She effortlessly produces an arena full of goose bumps with big ballads like “The Power of Love” and “All By Myself,” and deftly turns the 4,000-plus capacity theater into an intimate lounge for a quick set of jazz tunes, and later, a warm, acoustic medley. She talks, a lot, and talks about how she talks a lot, and the audience eats up every word. And she’s really funny, too.
That theme from “Titanic”—which earned Dion additional rave reviews when she performed it at the Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena in the spring to celebrate the film’s 20th anniversary—still closes the show, but the powerhouse run of songs leading up to the finale might be the current highlight. She dons a sexy, spiky, shimmery short dress, pays homage to Prince with “Kiss” and “Purple Rain,” moves into “Love Can Move Mountains” and a fantastic cover of “River Deep Mountain High,” the wraps it up with a high-energy take on Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” a song she’s favored since husband and manager René Angélil passed away last year.
Dion’s dual residencies at the Colosseum (“A New Day” began in 2003 and “Celine” in 2011) easily place her in the upper echelon of all-time great Vegas stars, and her show has clearly changed the game on the Strip. She couldn’t have a greater impact on Las Vegas. But she’s still here, on the edge of the stage, giving everything she’s got.
Celine Dion’s next performances at Caesars Palace are set for 7:30 p.m. on November 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 24 and 25. For more information, visit thecolosseum.com.