Celine Dion, ‘A New Day … ‘
Who can call being swarmed by a plethora of shirtless muscle-men work? Celine Dion can. The stainless-steel-voiced songstress, who spent five years at a Las Vegas coliseum built for her frilly-filled show, wasn’t just surrounded by hordes of testosterone. She sang. She danced. She pounded her chest. And she did it for over 700 nights, luring celebs like Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres and – caught on film! – Kathy Griffin.
You’re not Ramona Almirez, the cute 60-year-old woman who saw Dion sing “My Heart Will Go On” a whopping 83 times? Don’t fret. Shot in high-def, this beautifully-produced two-disc DVD features more than she ever saw: The entire theatrical Franco Dragone-created show, a touching 40-minute fan tribute, an absorbing behind-the-scenes documentary and a secret-revealing feature.
Never short on melisma, Dion’s engaging 18-song spectacle also is visually hypnotic, albeit its sometimes-tasteless get-ups (seriously, what’s up with the pigeon-looking dancers during “The Power of Love?”).
Other times, like during the delicate beaut “If I Could,” swinging fairies and mid-air bicyclists serve as an engaging backdrop (was the fake pooch really necessary, though?), emphasizing the innocence of youth – instead of distracting from the show’s main attraction: Dion. The $10-million ginormous screen, tucked behind an enormous stage, flashes doves and puffy clouds during vocal-gymnastics number “To Love You More” – and then transitions into Times Square for flashy upper “I’m Alive.”
She jives during “I Wish,” part of a three-song Frank Sinatra tribute, and then closes, of course, with “My Heart Will Go On,” a simple starry night illuminating behind Dion. Like a pro, she gracefully moves around the stage, artistically positioning her arms and small frame, so it’s not hard to realize why some people used their frequent flier miles to see her. Even if it was 83 times.
Still, those Dion fanatics (like the nationwide ones we follow around in the fan tribute, one of which sleeps with Celine Dion – on an oversized tee, of course. So creepy.) didn’t get the two-hour treat that those who embarrassingly walk up to the Wal-Mart checkout will get. That’s right, Dionatics: We spend a night with the diva as she tucks in son (or daughter?) Rene-Charles, heads to the coliseum with her hubby and sashays onto the stage.
Still, the cameras roll, giving us a peek at what goofy antics the crew – including Dion – cooks up. We get to watch people get strapped to harnesses, a femme-probably-gay guy pretending to be the star before her encore, and the best part: the way the camera avoids filming the diva’s private parts when she flees the stage for costume changes. Her heart’s going on and her clothes are coming off, and we don’t get to see? All right, fine! Be that way. A-
Mariah Carey, ‘The Adventures of Mimi’
Mariah Carey fans got more than vocal gymnastics on her 2006 tour. They got boobs. Armed with a massive rack, her dolphin squeal, some campy shtick (like those dance moves) and snazzy multi-colored mics, “Adventures of Mimi” was Carey’s biggest (busted) concert to date. Even if she’s mistaken her stage for the runway to a Victoria’s Secret fashion show.
As this Best Buy-exclusive DVD from her “Adventures of Mimi Tour” captures (finally, a full-length show and not some cut-and-paste project!), Carey ensured that each ensemble change (a whopping five!) let her breasts breathe, bared her belly and flashed her copper skin. She sang, too – unsteadily at first, as she rose from the bottom of the stage in her bra and panties (seriously!) at a California stop.
Launching with “It’s Like That,” Carey’s former effortlessly-soaring instrument obviously has changed, which becomes more noticeable on oldie “Dreamlover” and later on “One Sweet Day” (though it’s really rad to see her reunite with Boyz II Men!). She fared much better mid-show with “Fantasy,” “Always Be My Baby” and later with arm-flailing belter “We Belong Together.”
And through the entire 18-song set, really, Carey sent a gaggle of gals and gays (that’s “Queer Eye” guy Jai Rodriguez and Jesse from Bravo’s “Work Out”!) into a frenzy – and seen here, sent one chick into a bawl-fest as the singer belted the timeless “Hero.” Poor girl must be disappointed that Carey calls the early-’90s ballad corny on “The Adventures of Mimi Tour Documentary,” on disc two.
She goes into more depth on song choices on said special feature and, on “Behind the Scenes,” gabs backstage about her diamond-studded earplug (ah, only Mimi!) while a crewmember plays with her breast. Really. B+
Melissa Etheridge, ‘The Awakening Live’
Welcome to Melissa Etheridge’s temple. Here, she’ll offer meditations on finding God (even if you’re gay), fame and why she won’t resist an ice cream sundae.
Anyone who’s ever seen Etheridge live knows her insightful, humble and often-humorous in-between-tune transitions are nearly as engaging as watching her rip it up on guitar. So she does both at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City, where a horde of lesbians look on, wondering how the heck they can get in her pants.
She spoils their fun – OK, maybe only momentarily – with pro-single-partner “Threesome,” one of 16 tunes she chronologically plays from latest sociopolitical “The Awakening” (also packaged in the set as an audio CD). Unleashing her meaty growl, Etheridge sounds supreme – and so does her three-piece band, often dipping into intense riffs, especially on electric guitar-driven “An Unexpected Rain.”
She closes the show with Oscar-winner “I Need to Wake Up” and unreleased “Awakening” song “Not Tonight,” where the lyrics seem tailor-written for the encore: “I’d like to sing you one more song,” she sings before taking a long pause, “but not tonight.” Clever, Melissa. Really clever.
Music videos, a photo album and a Q-and-A session comprise the DVD extras. But easily the most captivating for diehard fans is the behind-the-scenes feature of the album’s evolution, where Etheridge and Co. goof off and where we can get thismuchcloser into her family life. B+
Scissor Sisters, ‘A Year of Ta-Dah’
Can’t say that the Scissor Sisters don’t know how to sex it up. Their shows are filled (no pun!) with it: Simulated blowjobs, sex talk with bandmate Ana Matronic and, of course, their infamous kiss-off “Filthy Sexy Gorgeous,” which the quartet (minus Paddy Boom, whose mom had recently died) performs on their flamboyant live-from-London DVD, “Hurrah: A Year of Ta-Dah.”
Jake Shears’ flying falsetto – and his concert-length striptease, eventually ending in his bare butt – is obviously the highlight, as the front man zips across the stage and oozes sex appeal with his childhood exhibitionism aura. But Matronic’s chitchat is engaging – and often hilarious, especially when she recalls a convo she had with Jesus: “Is it really true, ‘The bigger the hair, the closer to heaven?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Oh, well, what about homosexuals?’ He says, ‘Love ’em! Love ’em all.’ And then I said, ‘And then there’s this other rumor about you that you roll your own? And he said, ‘I do – but my dad rolls ’em even better.'”
Point blank: The colorful concert is a hoot (apparently, these rowdy Europeans thought so, too), spanning tunes from both off-the-hook albums. Though intense lighting sometimes blurs out images, we vividly can witness Shears’ little-boy tush – which, quite frankly, is enough reason to snatch this up. Butt – there’s more, like a captivating, erratic hour-long documentary, comprised of backstage footage, silly vacay moments, crazy TV gigs and an, uh, interesting video montage of fans singing “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.” It’s a total rump – uh, er – romp! B