Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Heart Will Go On

Celine Dion
HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA
February 20, 2009

Once upon a time, Umlaut worked with a woman who would always say she looked like Celine Dion; I never saw it. She did have long brown hair like Celine Dion, but past that I didn't see the resemblance. My co-worker was a sweet person and I always nodded in agreement when she'd mention her doppelganger.... Then I caught an interview with Celine Dion on t.v.. and, goddamit, but when she smiled she *did* look like my co-worker; actually the resemblance was uncanny. I stood corrected.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and Umlaut found himself approaching HP Pavilion with Skychick to attend a performance by Canada's national treasure. Now, before my Metal friends start deleting my contact info, I must clarify that my attendance was work related... and to be honest, I was curious to experience Celine Dion live; she's sold the same amount of albums worldwide as Metallica (over 200 MILLION albums to date) so there's obviously an entire society of Celine fans who I have absolutely no clue about... I would also be completely out of my element, which would be interesting as well.

Traffic around downtown San Jose was a bit of a clusterfuck. We were late getting to the show and missed the first song as I got my +1 sorted outside (Thanks Benny!) and then had to deal with THE most incompetent ushers ever... However, long story short, once we did find our seats everything was forgiven because they were KILLER...

Pic by Umlaut

The stage was set in the round (like Metallica's recent tour) and Celine was backed onstage by 8 musicians and 10 dancers. Celine had 6 wardrobe changes and I kept trying to watch the guitar players (one of whom also played violin) to see if they were really playing or not. The show's sound was unbelievably clean and the instruments sounded unbelievably processed as well; I suspected the vocals of the 3 back up singers was canned most of the time. I also wondered if Celine's crew guys scored alot of pussy on The Road because there were ALOT of chicks in the audience, dude. WAY more than at a Slayer show.

Pic by Skychick

I had been having the worst allergy attack all day and during the show my sinuses were draining down the back of my throat. I'm sure it was my body reacting to what I was subjecting it to; I was going into withdrawals from the lack of Metal. However, I sucked it up because our seats were in a prime section (face value was $200 EACH...)... so if I was going to have be in Heaven (Hell would have been Metal) at least it was from this sweet vantage spot; at times Celine was no more than a few feet from us.

To be fair, Celine does have a genuinely impressive singing voice from a technical standpoint, but her material pretty much all sounded the same to me; the songs went in one ear and out the other. She did a song with some famous Italian singer whose name I don't know, but the guy appeared via a video recording and Celine sang the "duet" with him that way.. . Yes, VERY cheesy, but Lynyrd Skynyrd did the same thing the last time I saw them so the Van Zant brothers could "sing" a duet together; cheesy is not limited to just Pop Music. The only songs I recognized were covers of a Heart song ('Alone') and a Tina Turner song ('River Deep Mountain High'), but they were so glitzed out it took me a moment to realize what songs they were.. However, no matter what she performed, everyone in the sold out arena was waiting for Celine to perform THAT song from the Titanic soundtrack.

While watching Celine perform 'My Heart Will Go On' I thought my heart would explode with joy and rainbows...... Okay, not really. You know, I've never seen Titanic all the way through (shocking!); I've only seen parts of it here and there when it's been on cable over the years. However, even I can't deny that the song has become the 'Stairway To Heaven' for millions of normal people. Does anybody remember laughter?

That being said, does anybody else find it odd that Princess Diana died less than 4 months before Titanic was released?? IMO, the global grief over her death was the main reason behind most of The Earth's population embracing both the movie's tragic story and also the song that embodied the onscreen tragedy; Titanic is the highest grossing movie in history and the song is one of the biggest selling singles ever as well. Did you know the movie's release was delayed 5 months due to "delays" in post production... 5 months... Plenty of time to plan the assassination of a Princess and create a marketing plan to exploit a planet's grief. Coincidence?? OR something more sinister?? Discuss amongst yourselves..

Anyway, at one point during 'My Heart Will Go On', a girl rushed the stage and got on the other side of the security barrier and tried to touch Celine as she sang... and not one security person tried to stop her.. and once she got to the stage none of the security seemed to know what to do about her. Worst concert security ever, but that girl ruled The Pit for sure.

Surprisingly, I had fun watching Celine's 2 hour performance; I felt like a spy inside The House Of Normal People.. It felt like a field trip into another world. I had nothing in common to what was going on around me but it was interesting to observe what "normal people" consider live entertainment; it was like Las Vegas had been dropped into downtown San Jose! Suburbia was enthralled by the flashing lights, the costume changes, the dancers, and the iconic Pop Queen onstage... and the arena was sold out despite the very expensive tickets so obviously the economy isn't bad for certain things.

Best Quote: "This is like watching t.v.!" - Skychick.

My favorite things about the performance were (1) How Celine knew exactly where every video camera was around the stage so she could wink or blow a kiss for the video screens and give the nosebleed seats some love; she did it so naturally it was eerie and I'm sure some fanboys up there thought she was winking at them personally... and (2) How Celine pronounced San Jose as "SAN HO-SAYY" trying to give it that ethnic pronunciation. "SAN HO-SAYY!! SAN HO-SAYY!"

Pic by Skychick

Anyway, Umlaut has been fortunate to have seen many of Canada's musical treasures live and in concert over the years, from Neil Young to Triumph to Rush to Loverboy to Fucked Up... and now I can add Celine Dion to that list. Do I qualify for socialized medical coverage now?!

Number of Ministry beanies = 1 (some kid with his parents). If you bought one of every Celine merch item you would have paid around $430. On the way back to the car, some pimply-faced teenagers called us fags. Cradle Of Filth is still the worst show I've seen so far this year.. So chew on this: Cradle Of Filth are worse than Celine Dion... There, I said it.

Addendum: Evidently, the San Jose show was Celine Dion's first Bay Area show in 10 years. Umlaut friend Lauraloha added her backstage experiences from back in The Day with Celine:

This has got to be the strangest review I've ever read by Umlaut. Hands down, the strangest.

Your amiga Lauraloha has worked many Celine Dion shows and I am here to report that, NO, the crew does not score alot of "pussy" because they are all very straight, hard working Canadians who have been next to Celine for most of their professional lives or so it seemed.....they all speak French, the Canadian kind, not the real stuff, and Celine joins them for all meals. Yup. Believe it.

She actually opened the door for yours truly while I stood there with two hands full of towels staring at a closed door....she came up behind me and opened the friggin door and was very nice about it. I'd like to see Lars Ulrich do that.

It's a large traveling circus family and Celine is the mama.

Did she snap her fingers and clap her one hand on her hip incessantly? That's what I remember most. That and the fucking Titanic song over and over again burned into my synapses......

Anyhow, good on ya Umlaut. Next up, Neil Diamond. That's where it really gets good.

Click HERE to relive another of Lauraloha's great Rock N' Roll adventures.