The Power of Love
The whispers in the morning, and an early morning it was. Setting off at 7am, I eagerly headed to the capital for what was sure to be a fantastic show that evening. Celine Dion, in Hyde Park. How special! Performing as part of the British Summer Time event, Celine was the headline act of the day, following on from Claire Richards and Josh Groban. This really was going to be a good day.
British Summer Time takes place in Hyde Park each year, and is a brilliant location within the city of London. There is plenty of space, and great travel connections to anywhere in the UK, thanks to the TFL network, making this one of the most accessible events the capital hosts.
Arriving at Marble Arch Tube Station, it was a short five minute walk across the top corner of Hyde Park to the entrance. There was no chance of getting lost, as there was plenty of signage along the route. With ticket in hand, I headed through the security and baggage check, which was handled thoroughly, something I appreciate in this current climate. They were checking each pocket within my bag, and being extra thorough – props to the security team for keeping on top of their game and taking things seriously. I breezed through the entrance, and into the festival site.
Unlike any other event I’ve attended in the past, Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time was a festival like no other. Taking place over a couple of weeks, this was a day festival in the sense that there is no camping or overnight provisions, and you pay per day you wish to attend. There is, however, everything else a traditional British festival has to offer – tasty street food, promotional stands, prizes, games, rides and merchandise, and much more. It was clear as you entered the park that this was a place to spend the afternoon before the headline act – something I planned to do.
To the right of the entrance was a Tinder stand, that looked as though it was a touring bar(?). As I waited for my friends later in the evening, I observed a lot of people laugh and point when they spotted it immediately after entering the event. It really was an odd sight to behold, but alas, it looked as though it may have been fun for those that made their way over to it. Drinks in the sun are fun, after all.
To the left, there was what at first glance looked like a permanent building housing a large and sprawling bar. As I got closer, I realized it wasn’t a real building, but a temporary event building, heavily themed! I was impressed at the levels of effort put into this event already – this was a welcome change from the standard festival experience where the bars are inside standard marquee tents.
Lots of food stalls took residence in the central area, with back to back stalls running directly down the middle of the site. With a plethora of food options available, including Pizza, Kebabs, Burgers, Curry and more, I opted for something I’d seen online in previous event reviews – a Hot Scotch Egg – specifically the Chorizo variety. Priced reasonably (for a Central London event), I found a nice spot in front of the Old Oak (main) Stage, and dug in, whilst listening to Claire Richards – a brilliant performance by her, in which she sang some new and old stuff.
The merchandise stall had a variety of Celine related merch, and also some BST additions too. I grabbed a Pin Badge and Lanyard and was impressed at the reasonable price for an event, as these make perfect mementos to remember the day! I also won a Coke tote bag in a recycling challenge – fun!
I settled down and relaxed for a couple of hours whilst I waited for my friends to arrive, and took in the various different artists that put on a show during the afternoon. The sun was shining, the crowd was forming, and the artists were entertaining. What more could I ask for?
Wow. Just… Wow. I was expecting a performance and a half, but Celine blew all my expectations. Taking to the stage at 20:20 with one of her most powerful hits, The Power of Love, the crowd were instantly captivated by her aura and charm. Sounding exactly the same as her recorded music, she flowed into That’s the Way it Is and I’m Alive, giving one hell of a performance. Her power was astounding, and the way her voice connected with the crowd was something special that cannot be described. She interspersed her greatest hits with personality, charm and whit, cracking jokes and sharing some special memories and moments.
Because You Loved Me, It’s All Coming Back to Me Now and (a personal highlight), Beauty and the Beast followed, in a nice reflective part of the show. The energy shifted slightly but the adoring fans went with it, and sang along, word for word. Nicely leading into The Reason and her all-French lyric hit Pour que tu m’aimes encore, of which a lot of the crowd knew all of the lyrics to and sang along in a powerful moment. This was a testament to the amazing success of Celine Dion and her loving fans – not many artists have such a fanbase that would be able to sing along to a non-native-tongue language track, but this crowd was full of people able to do just that. How wonderful!
Celine spoke fondly of a story about when Ryan Reynolds made contact with her about the film Deadpool 2, which she performed the soundtrack for with Ashes. Hearing her stories and the way she made herself so relatable to all of us really made us feel like we were there not only to watch Celine, but to be there WITH Celine. Flying On my Own followed on nicely, keeping the same vibe, but the biggest surprise (for me) came in the next song. – Think Twice. I have never experienced such a moment at a concert before, and this really blew me away. This is getting serious….
The song started as normal, in exactly the same way as you’d expect. The crowd were singing along, and as it’s not a particularly lively song for the first 50%, it was a nice singalong track. As the song picked up momentum, however, so did the fans. At roughly the 75% mark, the crowd LOST it, and absolutely BELTED out the lyrics. I was not prepared for the level and power of 60,000 singing fans all in absolute sync and unity for the most explosive part of the song. It really was a shocking and brilliant moment that I managed to capture a short snippet of – but the video does not do it justice. You had to be present to feel the absolute power of Think Twice.
Taking the emotional route, Celine delivered a mellow but touching All By Myself, but similar to Think Twice, the power comes towards the end of the song, and once again the crowd had her back, belting out arguably one of her biggest and most well known hits. Everyone was singing along, and for those three short minutes we actually felt something special. It’s incredibly hard to articulate into words.
Uptown Funk and Purple Rain were a surprise addition during the Interlude, which kept the crowd in high spirits. River Deep Mountain High and Love Can Move Mountains came afterwards, in a lovely and enjoyable segment of the show that can’t be forgotten. The best, however, was just around the corner, and we all knew what was coming.
My Heart Will Go On
We were all waiting for this moment. That song. That time. Everyone knew it was coming, and there was no other place for My Heart Will Go On but the finale of the show. I, however, was not quite prepared for what Celine gave to us.
She entered the stage in the middle, and walked towards the crowd, stopping at the halfway point. In a dazzling Golden dress, she sang those famous opening lyrics and the crowd was instantly captivated. I was in absolute awe that I was lucky enough to see Celine Dion sing arguably her most famous and well known hits, right here in Hyde Park. As she made it to the chorus, absolutely EVERYONE was on their feet and singing every last word, in unison. I’ve never, ever experienced such a powerful thing in my entire life. We were all there, present for the same amazing moment, sharing something we will never share again. Celine delivered a simply divine and opulent performance, and the crowd were here for it. Throughout the entire song, she never missed a beat and we were all providing her backing vocals for every word.
In a surprise move, Celine followed this powerful song with a short message about love and unity, leading perfectly into a really moving rendition of Imagine by John Lennon. As soon as those first notes were played, the entire atmosphere changed. If the crowd felt completely connected for her previous song, then we were now bonded like Super Glue. For those three minutes, I felt as though everything in the world was unified. Imagine all the people, living for today. I felt incredibly emotional from the moment I heard the song start, and was in tears throughout; this to me was incredibly moving, powerful and emotional. Hearing Celine perform this made me listen to every single word. With the crowd singing along, there was no screaming, no shouting, and no talking. It was such a mellow moment that really made me reflect on a lot of things. It reminded me of my father whom I lost at the beginning of the year, so the emotions and tears came flooding. It was an absolutely beautiful performance, and one I will never, ever forget.
End of Show
Celine ended the show by declaring her love (again) for London, and the crowd cheered and whooped along. I turned to my friends and we all agreed how much of an amazing show it had been. I never expected to feel anything close to what I did throughout that night, and words cannot begin to describe just how I felt. Seeing Celine was a privilege, and an evening I will never forget.
As we were leaving Hyde Park, the crowds were incredibly heavy as you’d expect. However, despite the show ending, we weren’t ready for bed just yet! Every so often someone would start singing one of Celine’s hits, and everyone’d join in the singing as we plodded on towards the Tube Stations. Once again, I was unprepared for such a brilliant spectacle, and this made me feel many happy things. It showed and proved just how much Celine is respected and loved worldwide. There are many videos online of fans singing as they entered the stations and even on the trains, and it really does show just how much of an impact her songs have on the world. Wonderful to see, and incredible to experience firsthand.
When you bless the day, I just drift away, all my worries die, I’m glad that I’m Alive.