CELINE Dion’s titanic hit My Heart Will Go On has been described as the second most tragic event ever to result from that fabled ocean liner that continues to torment humanity to this day.
The legendary French-Canadian singer (50) has been mercilessly derided for her pop ‘naffness’ despite a career spanning three decades, five Grammys and selling 200 million albums worldwide.
But it was her adoring fans – and more than a few aggrieved husbands – that descended on Perth Arena on Saturday night to watch the Queen of Ballads belt out her greatest hits.
Dion emerged to rapturous applause, dazzling in a gold pantsuit ensemble with glittery boots to match while performing her first Australian number one hit, The Power of Love.
It’s been 10 years since Dion graced our shores and she told the crowd she would make up for it as she launched into I’m Alive, Because I Loved You, Back to Me and Beauty and the Beast.
That’s The Way It Is showcased Dion’s powerhouse vocals, but her dance moves exhibited all the grace of Michael Jackson following a botched double hip replacement.
But the packed house was not there to see Dion dance.
They were there to hear her sing: something she told the crowd she was born to do and privileged to have made an enduring career from.
Not only does Dion love to sing, she loves to talk too.
She delivered a kooky monologue on her Ryan Reynolds infatuation and how a letter from the Hollywood star led to her recording Ashes, her latest movie blockbuster belter for the Deadpool 2 soundtrack.
Dion said the Perth crowd was as crazy as the dark and twisted anti-hero film. As I looked at the octogenerian sitting next to me quaffing her wine I wondered what Dion could see that I couldn’t. The crowd lapped it up anyway.
Dion delved deeper into her discography, singing Better Think Twice, Falling Into You and French hit Pour que tu m’aimes.
But it wasn’t until Dion deviated from her own songbook to pipe John Farnham’s Aussie anthem You’re the Voice that the crowd rose to their feet for a bit of a bop and a singalong.
The show took a sombre turn when Dion spoke of the loss of her music producer husband René Angélil, who died after falling out of bed while battling throat cancer.
While grieving, she received an unexpected gift from Pink in the form of the song Recovering. Aptly, it was followed by one of her more notable cover versions All by Myself.
Midway through, the band dropped out, accentuating her soaring vocal gymnastics sans accompaniment.
A poignant medley of At Seventeen and Unison with her string quartet had the singer wiping away tears.
As a migraine seemed destined to erupt due to power ballad overload, covers of Prince’s Purple Rain and Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High brought welcome relief.
The encore couldn’t have been anything else than the ear-bleeding My Heart Will Go On. But it left the audience wanting more.
Dion told the tipsy crowd her greatest wish was to never leave before finishing off with Elvis Presley’s I Can’t Help Falling in Love as a homage to her fondness of our great southern land.
At times it felt like Dion was operating on autopilot as she awkwardly strutted the stage and her “spontaneous” chatter with the audience frequently felt scripted and stale.
The surprise package for the night was the support act.
Charming human jukebox Véronic DiCaire nailed it as she incarnated the divas, from Mariah Carey’s glass-shattering vocals to Pink’s soulful rasp and Christina Aguilera’s signature growls.
Now that is an artist I’d pay to see again.