February 11-25, 2009: A Trip to Florida
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January 5, 2009
Celine Dion Performs at the
American Airlines Center


Tonight, Mario has asked me to go along with him to see Celine Dion at the American Airlines Center. He has to review her show, and Steve is working at the hospital. He didn't have to ask me twice or twist my arm!  

The American Airlines Center

The American Airlines Center was designed and built about five years ago as a replacement for Reunion Arena. Not that the Arena wasn't big enough, but it just wasn't "modern" enough (read: not enough luxury skyboxes). It is located just west of downtown, right alongside Stemmons Freeway and just south of the interchange between Stemmons (I-35E) and the Dallas North Tollway. Fred and I have ridden our bikes down there a great many times, since the Katy Trail (bike and pedestrian walkway that lies on top of the old Katy Railway right-of-way) ends there.

Before tonight, I'd not been in the building, but have heard a great deal about it. It is supposed to have retractable seating so it can convert easily from one sport to another or to a concert venue. There are no interior roof supports; they are all at the corners of the building.

The exterior of American Airlines Center is made of brick, limestone and granite and the arches on all sides of the building are supposed to signify "open arms to welcome Dallas' citizens." (That last bit of puffery is from the Center's Web site. The venue has four entrances, one on each side of the building, and the north and south ends of the building have outdoor balconies (these are only accessible from the "Platinum Level," which means pretty much what you think it might mean.


The Celine Dion Concert

I went over to Mario's house and we had some dinner at the Highland Cafe, and then we drove down to the American Airlines Center. When Mario reviews concerts, he always gets decent seats and parking and all that, so we drove right into a VIP lot right across the street from the Center, and then walked over and in.

Mario went to the will call box office to collect his tickets, and we headed into the lobby. When we got inside, we discovered that the opening act for Celine's show was still on stage, and so, not wanting to try to find our seats when someone was already performing, we just hung out in the lobby for a while. I snapped the picture at left of Mario in the lobby of the Center.

When the opening act was done, and people came out for the intermission, we headed up the ramp and into the arena. This was my first time in the American Airlines Center, and also the first time in recent memory that I had ever attended a concert with such a large audience in such a large venue. I was quite impressed even with just the empty stage, which, as it turned out, was quite a marvel in itself. The ramp put us inside the arena about halfway up the tiers of seats, and that is where I took that picture of the stage.

Our actual seats were down much closer to the stage, and just a few seating levels above the level of the stage itself, as you will see in the movies and pictures that follow.

Just about the first thing I did when we found our seats (which were right on the aisle) was to take a movie of the inside of the Center before the show actually began.

It wasn't very long before the lights dimmed and the Celine Dion concert began.

When the concert began, a cube was lowered from the rafters and a movie began playing on all four sides of it. The music came from the musicians who were still below stage level, although in the movie I made you can just see them. You can watch that movie using the movie player at left.

The movie on the cube showed Celine in clips taken at the previous stops on her concert tour. The last part of the movie dissolved to a real-time movie of the inside of the American Airlines Center, and when the cube lifted, Celine was onstage and beginning her first selections.

As I indicated before, the stage was almost one of the concert performers. There were multiple elevated platforms that could be (and were) raised and lowered as needed for the members of the two bands, piano and keyboard players and backup singers. Its elevators were also used to bring up the dancers and allow them to disappear after their numbers were over. You can see a picture of the stage in mid-performance if you will click here.

On either side of the stage (the sides facing the long axis of the arena, there were platforms connected to the stage with ramps. These allowed Celine and the other performers to come up "into the audience," since the platforms actually covered one section of seats. Here is Celine on the platform on our side of the arena.

The entire show was most enjoyable. I might wish that Celine had done more ballads and slower songs; much of the concert was a real "high-energy" performance with lots of rock selections. When I am listening to a concert like this one, I am usually waiting to hear the singer deliver his or her "signature songs." Last year, I looked forward to hearing Liza Minelli do her signature song "New York, New York," and Maureen McGovern doing "There's Got to Be a Morning After." Tonight, I was looking forward to hearing "My Heart Will Go On." Celine made me wait until her final selection to hear it, but it was worth waiting for.

One of the reasons I don't go to live concerts is that anyone I like enough to pay the costs in time and money to attend is someone I would like enough to have already purchased a CD or DVD of. And on a CD or DVD, you always get perfect acoustics or the very best camera work. So hearing Celine do "My Heart Will Go On" was pleasant, but with the acoustics and the crowd noises, it was hard to hear the song itself sometimes.

I was a trifle late starting, but I decided to film Celine's entire performance of "My Heart Will Go On." The movie is a bit long, but if you want to hear what I heard, just use the movie player at left.

The concert was a real pleasure, and I enjoyed it a great deal. When it was over, we drove over to the Dallas Morning News building so that Mario could write and submit his review.

February 11-25, 2009: A Trip to Florida
Return to Index for 2009