In 2003, I read a newspaper article that detailed Celine Dion's brand new show at Caesar's Palace. It was supposed to be one of the greatest live shows in the world and was highly recommended. I immediately wrote down “See Celine Dion in Vegas” on my bucket list right next to “Go to the Beijing Olympics” (somehow I thought I would have enough money for that at fourteen). In 2007, her show ended and was taken off the bucket list, along with the Beijing Olympics when I realised I had no money. In 2010, she announced that she was coming back for more shows and suddenly she was back on the bucket list. Beijing Olympics had been replaced by the London Olympics (again, I thought I would somehow have that sort of money right out of high school). Since then I have stopped believing in the idea of a bucket list (a rant for another day) but Celine was always in the back of my mind as a show I had to see before it was too late.
Fast forward to 2014 and I am planning my trip to Los Angeles and then on to Vegas, where Celine is still performing. It was finally going to happen. Then tragedy struck (with the illness of her husband but also, and more relevant to me, the indefinite postponement of her show). I was going to trip at the finish line of my race to Celine. Devastation set in, I put on weight, didn't want to socialise, was always correcting people's spelling as if they were doing it on purpose to hurt me. Actually, all those things happened before I found out about Celine's show but it was probably because I could sense what was about to happen. I had finally accepted this loss and gain (lose a Celine show, gain seven kilos. That's my motto) when Celine announced that she was going to return to Vegas in August for two months. Fun fact: did you know that the waterpark in Celine Dion's home is filled with the tears people shed while singing her songs in the shower? I single-handedly keep the slip'n'slide running.
So. My cousin and I had planned out this west coast road trip to end in LA in September. Could we possibly end in Vegas instead? I ask her. Of course we can. Everything is in place for the ultimate live experience. And yet I hesitate and don't buy a ticket straight away. Why? Cos it's bloody expensive, that's why. Nothing in my travels, besides flights, had been as expensive as this show was going to be. So I hesitated. I forgot about all the Celine moments in my life and instead focused on the cost. I forgot about Relay for Life 2012, when I requested I'm Alive (despite a lot of friends' protests) at 4pm and the whole team listened out for TWELVE HOURS until they finally played it at 4am and I was at the one station where you couldn't hear the sound system. Did I well up when I got back to the team base and found out that I had missed it? Maybe. But it was 4am and I was running around in pigtails so it could have been anything. I forgot about being the only person in the whole world who loved that the first song kids learn on the recorder is the “My Heart Will Go On”. I forgot that I once drove to Auckland with Mum and the only music on my iPod that she wouldn't hate was Celine Dion so we listened to an eight song playlist on loop for ten consecutive hours. I forgot about trying to sing along to “Beauty and the Beast” and not knowing how to sing, let alone harmonise, so trying to sing both parts at once or choosing one then realising it's too high so switching to the other and realising it's too low, then subsequently realising I must have a range of half an octave at best.
I forgot what it takes to be a young Celine Dion fan. I could be absolutely killing it on the aux cord for five hours but if I dare play a little “Power of Love”, suddenly I'm that wedding DJ with the lisp from Love Actually. People are truly in denial about their Celine fandom and it saddens me. So I had forgotten all of these things when I balked at the price and it wasn't until I accidentally saw a text on my cousin's phone that I snapped out of it. Randy (also on the Vegas trip) had asked her if she had bought her Celine ticket and she replied
“No. Never. Not even if there was a fire.”
Sometimes it takes another's hate to realise your own love. I bought my ticket that day.
Last night I crossed “See Celine Dion in Vegas” off my no-longer-valid bucket list. There isn't a whole lot to say about it except that it was exactly as amazing as you would imagine. She sang “I'm Alive” and it took me back to Frank Kitts Park, she sang “Because You Loved Me” and it took me back to long car rides with Mum, she sang “Immortality” and it took me back to the photography dark room at Marsden where Hayley and I would yell it out until Mrs Bartsch very rudely told us to stop.
If there was one con in the whole experience it would be the crowd. I always thought that Celine songs were the greatest songs to sing along to because how can you not? Well apparently it's very easy because the whole crowd at the show did just that. Then again, when it comes to Celine Dion songs, I possess the misplaced confidence of someone who actually has any right to sing at all. But still, the crowd was a bit of a dud. She even specifically asked people to sing along and I still got looks from the guy beside me (maybe because he was in love, probably because he wanted to hear Celine, not me). At one point, she asked everyone to “put up your lights”, the second mezzanine aka cheapest seats (where I was) lit up immediately but I looked down at the $500 seats and there were maybe ten lights up. Turns out, everyone who could afford those tickets was too old to effectively operate an iPhone flashlight. So that's the sort of demographic I am in and I couldn't care less.
I am writing this on the Greyhound bus back to LA and just finished chatting to the cute guy across from me. We are the same age and it was going great. Then he started talking about how his favourite thing to do is “you know, just go drink at the club then go to a rave” and I have never been so bored in my life. I told him I had just been to Celine Dion's show and he said
“Is she new?”