Celine Dion reminded the rapt, standing audience at her final show of the man who piloted her visionary residency at Caesars Palace.
At the end of Saturday night’s finale, the LED screens displayed a black-and-white photo montage of Dion and her late husband, Rene Angelil. The crowd cheered at the image of the aristocratic entertainment manager and architect of the Dion Era at the Colosseum.
Dion sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” during those closing moments, kneeling and holding her right hand up at the images of her alongside Angelil. Dion’s sons, 18-year-old Rene-Charles and 8-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy, then trooped out to present their legendary mom with two bouquets of red roses — and a separate, single white rose.
“Thank you so much!” Dion called out, adding the formality, “These are my three magnificent children.”
The ending was poignant, but not too heavy. As Dion’s fans would anticipate, the show’s final performance was very much a family affair, as it was from the start. Dion and Angelil had been inspired to produce a Vegas spectacle after seeing “O” at Bellagio and teaming with former Cirque du Soleil director Franco Dragone to set up what would be a 16-year run that included 1,141 shows for 4.5 million fans.
“The energy around this whole project and dream was not very positive,” Dion said in a backstage video interview prior to the show, produced by AEG Presents and Caesars Entertainment. “‘Oh, the Titanic is going to sink again, she’s going to end of her career over there, this is going to be the end of her career.’ Then Rene just kind of said (clapping hands), ‘Hey people! Do we believe in our project? Do we believe in this, or not?’ And it shook everybody, in the right way.”
Of the venue conceived and constructed specifically for her vision, Dion said, “The Colosseum will always have Rene’s energy … that is what I believe and feel.”
And as for that single white rose: Angelil customarily presented Dion with red roses after performances. He would add a single, white rose for particularly special occasions. Saturday night was one of those occasions, the end of an era, and he was there.
She’s so fly
Dion performed her latest single, “Flying On My Own,” for the first time Saturday. The song has a nightclub/EDM vibe. As they used to say on “American Bandstand’s” Rate-A-Record: “It’s got a good beat. You can dance to it. I give it a 96.”
Dion was the toast of a private post-party at Mr. Chow, from where she watched an unbilled fireworks show from the hotel. Shania Twain, who was also at the performance, was in the mix.
Later, Dion and an entourage of nine — which would be a great title for something — filed into Omnia Nightclub at Caesars. Tiesto headlined, and the Dion crew arrived at 2 a.m. and reportedly grooved it up until 3:30. Her drink of choice was Grey Goose and orange juice, and her shoes were described as “blue pointy heels,” also a great title for something.
For those clamouring for a clue about Dion’s return to the Strip, she’s committed to her 50-city “Courage World Tour” through the end of 2020. Her schedule is an indication she wouldn’t take on a third Las Vegas residency until maybe mid-2021, at the earliest. For symmetry (and marketing strategies), if it’s 2022, you’re reaching the 20th anniversary of when Dion’s “A New Day…” was announced.
Those who would be involved in such a return residency were in the audience Saturday, including Caesars Entertainment President of Entertainment Jason Gastwirth among other top-level Caesars officials. Also seated: MGM Resorts International President of Entertainment and Sports George Kliavkoff.
For now, Dion says she is taking a brief break before her next live show, the British Summer Time Hyde Park festival in London in July. Her “Courage” tour launches in Quebec on Sept. 20.
“I will have some photo shoots, which I love to do, this month, actually,” she said in her video interview. “Bring some clothes! Bring some shoes!” She’s also filming commercials for L’Oreal Paris, and still working on the “Courage” album, due in November.
In the room
In my extended radius, aside from those already mentioned: Raiders owner Mark Davis; Tiesto; famed producer Kenneth Ehrlich, who directed Dion’s most recent Caesars residency; and Studio at the Palms director Zoe Thrall, where Dion recorded the vocals for “Courage.”
Dion’s residency was originally for three years, at a staggering 200 shows per year (five shows per week at 40 weeks per year). Skepticism about the new scale of Vegas production ran across the international entertainment culture. AEG Presents/Concerts West Co-CEO John Meglen recalled the now-famous comment from Barbra Streisand’s legendary manager, Marty Erlichman. Meglen had bumped into Erlichman at the Grammy Awards about a year after “A New Day…” opened. Erlichman said, “I only know of two people who thought this would work: You, and I still haven’t met the other one.”
Cool Hang Alert
Post-Celine, I cut into David Perrico’s Pop Strings Orchestra’s performance at Cleopatra’s Barge. It’s an original Cool Hang Alert, running three years in September at The Barge after bouncing around VegasVille since 2015. It’s a blast, for real, with the band charging through re-fashioned rock and pop hits. “Livin’ On a Prayer” and “Hotel California” pulled the place apart Saturday, where those lined up outside were craning and grooving. No cover, either. Doubled with Perrico’s Pop 40 act, live music holds down the moat from 8 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Get there.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.