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Celine, AEG’s ‘A New Day …’ premiered 20 years ago

Updated March 24, 2023 - 8:42 pm

It has been 20 years since Celine Dion and AEG Presents/Concerts West forever changed the scale and trajectory of headlining productions in Las Vegas.

Saturday, AEG marks its 20th anniversary of the night on March 25, 2003, when Dion unveiled “A New Day …” at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

Both the show and venue were new, groundbreaking productions on the Strip. Network TV even got involved, as Justin Timberlake hosted the hourlong CBS special “Celine In Las Vegas: Opening Night Live.”

Since that night, AEG has booked shows in nearly every live-music theater and arena on the Strip and operates in many of the city’s premier theaters and arenas.

”We’re so grateful to have been such a part of the long history of entertainment in this remarkable city,” John Meglen, president and co-CEO of Concerts West, said in a statement. “We’re thankful to all of the artists who have trusted us to help them build such an important part of their performing careers, and we are proud of all of our employees who have helped us achieve this … Many of them from the very first day, 20 years ago.”

Dion’s reps have not returned requests for comment. Last week her manager, Dave Platel, said there was nothing to report regarding the superstar’s health. Thursday, Dion marked the 25th anniversary of her performance of the Oscar-winning “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic” at the 1998 Academy Awards telecast.

Dion has been unable to open her residency at the Resorts World Theatre as she suffers from Stiff Person Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that causes muscle spasms and extreme tightness. That series is also an AEG Presents partnership, with no return date scheduled.

Dion’s 16-year run over two residencies still holds as the most successful Las Vegas residency ever. She performed 1,141 shows for more than 4.5 million fans. Concerts West continued to book and operate The Colosseum from 2003 through 2019, when Live Nation entered into an exclusive agreement with Caesars Entertainment at the venue.

During AEG’s operating run, Elton John, Cher, Bette Midler, Mariah Carey, Shania Twain, Reba and Brooks & Dunn and Rod Stewart played the room. AEG’s shows played to more than 10.3 million fans to the Colosseum, drawing more than $1.4 billion in ticket revenue at the theater.

“It’s an honor to be part of a team who plays such an integral role in growing and maintaining the title that Las Vegas is known for – the Entertainment Capital of the World,” said Bobby Reynolds, senior vice president at AEG Presents Las Vegas. “Programming our venues with globally-recognized talents that attract live entertainment fans from around the world is what our business is all about. We look forward to what’s ahead in the next 20 years and beyond.”

In 2009, Concerts West/AEG Presents kicked off Carlos Santana’s show at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. This, too, was a trailblazing effort, the first extended residency by a rock legend. Santana played 71 shows from 2009-11, and still holds the record for most performances ever in The Joint (today’s Theater at Virgin Hotels).

Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe also played extended series in The Joint, turned into Theater at Virgin in September 2021.

In 2019, AEG Presents began presenting resident headliners at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. Lionel Richie, Bryan Adams and Sebastian Maniscalco are among the superstars in rotation at Encore, which is routinely listed on Billboard’s annual list of highest-grossing venues worldwide in its category.

AEG has also booked Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and David Blaine at Resorts World Theatre. In 2022, that venue was the highest-grossing venue internationally with a capacity of 5,000 or less in Billboard’s year-end box score charts.

The company has also produced the shows that opened many famous Vegas venues, starting with Dion at the Colosseum. Those memorable performances include the Joint at Hard Rock with The Killers on April 17, 2009, T-Mobile Arena (which AEG co-owns with MGM Resorts international) with The Killers on April 7, 2016, followed by Guns N’ Roses on April 9-10; Allegiant Stadium, with Illenium on July 3, 2021; and Resorts World Theatre, with Underwood’s “Reflection” on Dec. 1, 2021.

The company has also booked one-offs with an array of iconic headliners at Wynn Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Park MGM/Dolby Live, The Venetian, Michelob Ultra Arena, MGM Grand Garden , The Beach at Mandalay Bay, among others.

Aside from those already mentioned, notable performances and headlining residencies have included the Rolling Stones, Journey, Nine Inch Nails, Diana Ross, Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé and Moody Blues; along with comic stars Kevin Hart, Jim Gaffigan, Nate Bargatze and others.

Over the past two decades, Concerts West/AEG Presents Las Vegas reports that it has accounted for nearly $3 billion in gross ticket revenue, and attracted nearly 20 million visitors to Las Vegas. The company also seen record-setting sales for various performances, including a record gross of $12.8 million for the Rolling Stones’ performance at Allegiant Stadium in 2022.

“What a great long adventure it has been,” said John Nelson, senior vice president at Concerts West/AEG Presents. “From Celine’s opening night 20 years ago, when she lost her shoes during a costume change and returned to stage barefoot … To David Blaine dislocating his shoulder in his ninety-foot drop into the audience at the start of his show last weekend … There’s never been a dull moment.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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