Celine Dion told an audience of more than 12,000 at the Sprint Center Monday that “it’s been more than ten years since we were last here.”
The adult pop icon’s dramatically different approach to singing is among the many things that have changed since her last appearance in Kansas City. Once known for bombastic vocal pyrotechnics, Dion refrained from gratuitous showmanship.
Raised by a musical family in Quebec, Dion’s extraordinary voice made her a regional star as a teenager. Even though her glamorous fashion sense and atypical marriage to her manager have been intensively documented by tabloids, Dion is far removed from popular culture.
Rather than competing with upstart pop stars like Ariana Grande, Dion, 51, is a throwback to crooners like Frank Sinatra, a trait exemplified by her long residencies in Las Vegas.
Monday’s show included five wardrobe changes. A billowing ballroom gown was worthy of Marie Antoinette. Dion joked that “I’ll keep my pants on” after tearing the sleeves off a modified tuxedo.
The elaborate production also featured a 17-piece band with a string quartet with members who stood up to pump their fists during a pause in a symphonic arrangement of “The Power of Love” and a fleet of drones that surrounded Dion as she delivered her signature hit “My Heart Will Go On.”
Yet Dion’s impeccable vocal control was the most remarkable aspect of the 110-minute concert. The theatrical notes she occasionally held emphasized the sentiment of the lyrics rather than her vocal prowess.
Fans took to Twitter to share their reactions to the show.
The unflaggingly tasteful tone transformed the dentist-office staple “Because You Loved Me” into a magnificent ode to joy. A hushed rendition of “The Prayer,” her 1999 duet with Andrea Bocelli, wasn’t the only selection that evoked opera. Dion’s formal application of her silvery voice made even slight selections like “To Love You More” possess the grandeur of arias composed by Giuseppe Verdi.
After admitting that she’d recently endured “my most difficult moments” — presumably a reference to the 2016 death of her husband — readings of her vulnerable new single “Courage” and the forlorn “All By Myself” were especially poignant. Her vocal embellishments at the conclusion of the latter song seemed like mandatory catharsis rather than superfluous flashiness.
Dion’s vocal acrobatics were kept to a minimum, but her extreme body contortions and outlandish gesticulations are still endearingly goofy. Combined with the maturation of her vocal style, Dion’s childlike antics made her long-overdue return to Kansas City uncommonly gratifying.
Set list: It’s All Coming Back to Me Now; That’s The Way It Is; I’m Alive; If You Asked Me To; The Power of Love; Love Can Move Mountains; Beauty and the Beast; The Prayer; You’re the Voice; Tous les blues sont écrits pour toi; To Love You More; Courage; All by Myself; Lying Down; Because You Loved Me; medley: Let’s Dance/Another One Bites The Dust/Kiss/River Deep, Mountain High/Lady Marmalade; My Heart Will Go On; Imagine