Music review: Celine Dion at Glasgow Hydro

Over the course of two hours in the company of arch balladeering chanteuse Celine Dion, the last thing any non-devotee of hers' might have expected to hear was Michael Jackson's great theme song to racial harmony Black or White punched out at full tempo while Dion enacted a more than passable impersonation of the late King of Pop's hard-to-imitate moves. Nor might a full-blooded take on Tina and Ike Turner's River Deep Mountain High '“ sparing no physical enthusiasm or dextrous vocal commitment to matching Tina's highest and best notes '“ be near the top of the list of most anticipated scenes.

Celine Dion PIC: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images
Celine Dion PIC: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Celine Dion ****

Hydro, Glasgow

It’s a foible of having a monumental hit that an artist might find themselves hemmed into that style, and Dion’s career has never been short of lung-filling torch songs to match My Heart Will Go On, the love theme to the movie Titanic, for which she will no doubt be remembered long after she’s gone; she even got to parody herself here with the first few lines delivered as a creaky old lady in her mid-80s, which the fans loved. Yet as her late husband and manager Rene Angelil – he died of cancer last year, and the standing ovation when she first mentioned his name was lengthy and genuine – used to tell her when she was starting out: “you don’t want a hit, Celine – you want a career.” This concert was an eye-opener, in the sense that Dion didn’t thoroughly demonstrate how that career had been achieved on the back of her repertoire of big-budget ballads, but on a vigorously hard-working representation of herself as a first-rate interpreter of other’s music.

She doesn’t write her own songs, she pointed out, but she’s happy to accept gifts like the bittersweet ballad Recovering, written by Pink in commemoration of Angelil. With an orchestra, a small brass section and a full band around her, Dion switched to crowd-pleasing type on Think Twice, Because I Love You and the inevitable encore of My Heart Will Go On.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yet it was the covers which elaborated on her range with a striking flourish, from Jennifer Rush’s The Power of Love to I Drove All Night and a strident, chin-up take on Queen’s The Show Must Go On. These and her indefatigable physical vitality while catwalking in trouser suits and performing a lithe dance piece with a Patrick Swayze lookalike on Pour que to m’aimes encore, to levels which came close to those of Jackson or Turner.