Sunday, August 12, 2018

Seeing Celine

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Yesterday, Nigel and I went to see Celine Dion in concert at Auckland’s Spark Arena, the first time either of us had been there. Auckland is the final stop on her “Celine Dion Live 2018” tour of Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. I didn’t say anything about this on Facebook until we got there, and even then I expected I might get some negative reactions from Facebook friends, not that I really cared. I also didn’t really know what to expect. It turned out that both ended up being really great.

Now, I have to admit right up front that while I like Celine Dion, and know many of her songs really well (and like them), I nevertheless wouldn’t call myself a “fan”, which means that I’m not devoted or excited about every new release as I am (or have been…) for other artists. However, because I like her work, I wanted to see her perform live.

We arrived VERY early, because of emailed advice Nigel got form the promoters, and because we found parking right near the arena. We grabbed a quick fast food dinner, and joined the queue outside the arena at around 5:45pm (I think). After a long wait, which included bag searches and a body scan with a handheld scanner, the doors opened about 6:30pm or so. We went right to our seats.

Our seats turned out to be very high up and to the side (stage right). We were so high up, in fact, there were only a few more rows between us and the very top-most row. And, it as very steep—so much so that I, who can’t stand heights, really worried about going down the stairs when we were leaving. In fact, I didn’t leave my seat until the concert was over.

A little after 7:30pm, the opening act began. That was Véronic DiCaire, a French-Canadian singer and impressionist I’d never heard of. She had a nice voice and really good range, and many of her impressions of famous singers were good. The set was—okay. It didn’t wow me, but I didn’t dislike it, either. That ended a little after 8pm.

A little after 8:30pm, Celine’s concert began. She was in fine voice, hit all the notes with ease, and was energetic. She also walked to the sides of the stage and sang to those of us seated at the sides (something Véronic never did). She did mostly songs I knew, and a few I didn’t. She also did some songs I’d not heard her do before, like John Farnham’s 1986 hit, the power ballad “You’re The Voice” [WATCH/LISTEN to his version]. That and other songs surprised me because I hadn’t really known that she could do rock vocals so well.

As is her way, Celine also talked a lot to the audience, which was sometimes corny, but also kind of endearing. It also seemed natural, as if no matter how many times she’s said something similar in a show, each time she makes it up fresh as she goes.

When the main part of the show ended, I knew what the encore would be, since she hadn’t performed it in the show (and I won’t name it because there are more people who will see her in Auckland). And she did a second song a cappella, and then it was all over. I forgot to check my watch, but it was after ten, closer to 10:30, maybe.

After a very slow exit out of the arena, we got the car quickly, and out of the carpark quickly, and then hit near gridlock on Auckland streets as we tried to get to the motorway. We ended up getting home just past midnight.

Celine was last in New Zealand back in 1996, but we couldn’t go. Nigel had just started a new job, and I was still at my first one, having only arrived to live in New Zealand in November of the year before. The stars, as it were, just weren’t aligned.

So, this time we didn’t miss the chance. It was also nice to go to Spark Arena, which is nice inside that food and drink stands had good offerings at surprisingly good prices. Now that we’ve been there, we’ll know what to expect the next time we go.

Because we arrived so early, and entered as soon as the doors opened, there was hardly anyone inside the arena. In fact, it didn’t really fill up until the last 10 or 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. At the bottom of this post are two photos I took of roughly the same spot. The top one I took at 6:37pm, and the bottom one right after the opening act was finished (8:09pm). It gives an idea of how full it was. Spark Arena holds about 12,000 people, and the concert was sold out.

I’m keenly aware that some people can’t stand Celine Dion, for a variety of reasons. I don’t care about that, obviously—Arthur’s Law. Besides, I have a history of liking artists others don’t. Even so, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see negative comments on my Facebook page. However, I got none, which these days is unusual enough to be worthy of mentioning. Naturally, the people who really know me (in real life or online only) were no doubt happy that Nigel and I got to have a nice night out together, something that’s not all that easy to manage with our busy lives, and because we now live up to an hour’s drive from central Auckland.

So, we had a great night out, and really enjoyed the show. We’d go see her again—though if her next show is in 22 years, that may be pushing things a bit.

Spark Arena at 6:37pm—the doors had only been open a few minutes at that point.
8:09pm, after the opening act and before Celine's concert. The arena is full.


rogerogreen said...

I like Celine well enough, probably not enough to go see her (unless I got free tickets). I felt badly when her husband and brother both died of cancer around the same time. From the Wikipedia: "On 22 March 2018, Dion's management team announced that Dion had been dealing with hearing irregularities for the past 12–18 months due to Patulous Eustachian tube and would undergo a minimally invasive surgical procedure to correct the problem after ear-drop medications appeared to be no longer working,"

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Yes, she's definitely had her share of challenges, to put it mildly. But on the night she was in good voice and gave an energetic and entertaining performance.

I don't know that I would have pursued going if Nigel hadn't really wanted to go, but I'm very glad we went.