Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Celine Dion

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Also posted on Notesfromvenus.com

Peals of thunder rolled in the heavens. The humidity was stifling. The heavens seemed to be closing in on us mere mortals on earth. Lightning flashed! Then the first few drops fell flat like water baloon bombs hitting concrete walls.

"Aiyo. Habis lah, the concert tonight." Little did we know that at the very same moment, in her comfortable luxurious suite, Celine Dion was having the same thought, as we found out later. Perhaps in French. I can imagine a demure "Merde" crossing her mind. Our Singaporean neighbours must have been gleeful as well as the reporting in Singapore, just a week earlier, was of the sour grapes variety that she had given the city state a miss. If I recall correctly, the title of the article was "Celine gives Singapore a miss" and went on to describe how citizens of the city state said it was "too far" to travel to KL for a concert.

A scene from Ms Dion's sell out Vegas show
In the event, when 6pm rolled around (the agreed upon pick up time for our family) the rain had stopped, the breeze was Fraser's Hill cool and there was an almost crispness in the air. The sky was sky blue of the vivid kind that had you thinking God had just washed his car and the dust had all fallen on the wayside. As we drove up through the traffic surrounding Stadium Merdeka, there was already a queue leading halfway around the block.

We were blessed. Parking was a doddle as we had the use of a carpark just around the corner and when we walked back up to the stadium to meet the others we found that the massvie queue was for one of the Gates. A gate right next to it was inexplicably short on people and it was an entrance to exactly the same stalls as the gate with the huge queue. Someone up above really did smile on us.

We laid out our old newspapers on the concrete bleachers and sat down with a cool, balmy breeze blowing in the gloaming. Stadium Merdeka had been restored and it was lovely to sit there and reminisce about the old place. The place where Tunku had uttered "Merdeka" 7 times and that had been, to all intents and purposes, the beginning of our country. I couldn't help but feel an electric shiver down my spine as I looked around.

Allan's Aunts and his Mum started to tell us about the time they had run on the tracks as part of their stint as national athletes. And also played hockey with the current Sultan of Pahang when he was the then Agung. How they had showed "no mercy" but very politely apologised "Sorry Tuanku" every time they tackled him.

The light began to fall. Blue turned to yellows, greens, purples and reds as the sun took it's nightly chariot ride down into the west.

At about 8pm, some lively sorts up in the bleachers above us, decided to liven the crowd up by starting "The Wave."

The first ended in a hiccough just beyond the starting point. The second failed just a touch later. The third was interrupted by a huge gap behind the scaffolding housing the lights and video equipment. No one was sitting there. So the people beyond somehow didn't realise that they should pick it up. The fourth attempt was an almost clincher. But the fifth; the fifth went right around the bleachers. A sea of flailing arms and bodies rose from their seats in an undulating crest signalled a successful "wave." And all it took were 3 girls to begin this. Is there a lesson in there somewhere? ;-)

Eventually, it took on a life of it's own. Going from the bleachers down to the stalls on the grass field where the more expensive ticket holders were seated and back again. In that way, the crowd kept themselves occupied and added to the fervour and energy of the moment until our Tuanku, the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agung and his Permaisuri, arrived at close to 9pm.

We had been there for nigh on 2 and a half hours.

A flick of the switch extinguished all the lights, plunging the stadium into darkness, and after an enthusiastic welcome by Yasmin Yusoff, Celine glittered onto the stage.

The huge video screens were fantastic. From where we were sitting I could measure Celine to be as tall as the gap between my pointer finger and my opposable thumb. We had brought "opera" glasses but while they served to tell us that the gorgeous dress was made of sequins, we couldn't really make out her features. But trained on the video screens, she leapt out as large as life. We made good use of them especially when the dancers came on; that was as much a spectacle as Celine was.

She opened with I Drove All Night and segued into Power of Love. By this time you knew she meant business. Ms Dion obviously enjoys being on stage.

She greeted Their Highnesses, the King and Queen, and yelled Terima Kasih to the crowd and then launched into a short apology for having postponed the concert. She mentioned that she had been worried about the rain but that now we were sitting under a beautiful moon. Something I think many of the audience, myself included, noticed for the first time. The crowd was putty in her hands and her's for the rest of the evening.

And she played us like a pro.

From songs in her repertoire that had us boogeying, to songs that made us sway, she played us like a string instrument, which, if you've noticed, is what she does with her right hand as she emotes the song. From Because You Loved Me, All By Myself, Alone and her number one hit of her "French career," Pour Que Tu M’Aimes Encore.

Accompanied by 3 backing singers and 8 dancers who framed her singing and performance, Celine Dion came close to "rocking" Kuala Lumpur. Only close, as she is an anthemic performer and not a rocker chick! Make no mistake though; she is versatile enough to perform jazz, blues, and rock more than passably. She paid tribute to Queen and also sang We Will Rock You which brought with it a sense of deja vu for us.

But her forte is definitely and defiantly soaring, love anthems.

After a short one and half hours, and minimal fidgeting due to ignorance of her less well known songs, she made us work for her second encore, the theme song from the movie, Titanic, My Heart Will Go On. The crowd went wild as she came out in a long flowing light coloured gown and belted out the monster hit. Screeching along became all too familiar until with regret, we said good night and prepared to follow the crowd, lemming like, out through the turnstiles.


Was there too. I so enjoyed doing the wave. Took away some of the boredom of waiting. :-) Great concert. I didn't expect to enjoy it that much.

Neither did I LL. ;-)

hehehe Don't have ANY of her CDs. ;-)

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