Legend Celine Dion Returned to Texas in Epic Courage Tour: Review

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The night opened with a cool video of Celine getting ready, putting on her makeup and she appeared in a stunning red glitter slit dress with matching pumps, flawless makeup, and toned arms. The sold-out show had fans singing and cheering from the get go, and Dion appeared as happy and healthy (incredibly fit) as we’ve ever seen her.

Dion is on her 14th tour in support of her 2019 album “Courage”. Her first words were about how ten years is way too long for her San Antonio return, and she spent much time talking about “What went wrong? It’s unacceptable and we’re going to fix it” and then shared how Vegas stole her for awhile. She was fully prepared to make up for her absence.

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We knew the show would be an incredible performance, but she blew us away. She is the ultimate performer and has been doing it for decades-has it nailed down. Celine was engaging with the crowd throughout the entire show and she was brimming with emotion, and often smiling and then touched her eye as if stopping the tears, and would say, “I think something is in my eye….maybe a bug, I don’t know”. In another moment she raised her glass and said “cheers to your health”. Her wit and humor (sometimes cheesy) is part of her flirting with the audience and she enjoys it. One moment while taking off her jacket, “that’s all that’s coming off” with a grin.

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The set list was a robust mix from her massive catalog that perfectly blended timeless classics, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Because You Loved Me”, “All By Myself”, “My Heart Will Go On”, with mid-range stuff and new songs “Courage” and “Lying Down”. She also sang beautiful songs in French. Celine did a beautiful job playing Andrea Bocelli in their duet “The Prayer”. Her ability to hit incredibly high notes, gave us chills. It’s clear she has worked very hard to take care of her voice and her health. Her voice skills are a piece of art with the height and octave range.

The stage was massive, the lighting and set were elegant and tasteful, as is Celine, and the piano was incredible; the full strings and brass section and back up singers- plus 3 raised percussion/keyboard sets gave such a volume of sound. The mix of the bands classy outfits and her red dress was stunning.

CELINE-DION-2020-0130-193Celine strutted confidently in very high heels (more than 6 inches?) and covered large distances to reach every part of the audience. Towards the end of the main set, a video of her doing ballet with her friend, showed off her fit body and her dance skills (who knew?). Wow.

We couldn’t help think of Kobe Bryant who had just passed away that week, as we were looking at Tony Parker and other NBA jerseys hanging in the rafters in ATT Center where the Spurs play.

Her career will continue to “go on” and we can’t wait to see how she continues her self-reinvention. It’s clear why the Courage World Tour was one of the top shows of 2019 and we think it will make our 2020 list. Don’t expect many empty seats.

Check out all our show photos on Austin 101.

Set list:

  1. It’s All Coming Back to Me Now
  2. Dans un autre monde
  3. Terre
  4. A vous
  5. I’m Alive
  6. The Power of Love
  7. Beauty and the Beast
  8. Encore un soir
  9. You’re the Voice
  10. Regarde-moi
  11. Ziggy
  12. Courage
  13. All By Myself
  14. Lying Down
  15. Tous les blues sont écrits pour toi
  16. S’il suffisait d’aimer
  17. Let’s Dance / Another One Bites The Dust / Flying On My Own / Kiss / River Deep, Mountain High / Lady Marmalade

Encore
18. My Heart Will Go On
19. Pour que tu m’aimes encore

John Mayer Gets ‘Back To The Music’ In Texas

by Dan Radin, San Antonio, Texas

Present-day John Mayer isn’t the womanizing guitar hero that the tabloids once despised. Mayer’s show this week unearthed him not only as a mature musician, but also a self-searching adult who has markedly come into his own.

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-254It’s been a “long, strange trip” for Mayer. From his Atlanta days, when “Your Body Is a Wonderland” exploded over the airwaves, to touring as the Jerry Garcia stand-in with Dead and Company, Mayer’s seen a lot of growth. And if his set at on Saturday is any indication, he is “not done changing.”

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-098Every iteration of Mayer’s music came into the fray at AT&T Center. He locked in as a bluesman on his Fender, while his mini acoustic set drew shrieks of joy from the 70% female audience. He couldn’t have asked more from his dynamic backing band, who played air-tight together: long-time collaborator Pino Palladino (The Who, etc.) on bass, keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac, vocalists Tiffany Palmer/Carlos Ricketts, percussion section Aaron Sterling/Aaron Draper, guitar phenoms Isaiah Sharkey and David Ryan Harris.

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-121Mayer generously featured each of the band members throughout the set; most notably, Sharkey’s solo on the “If I Ever Get Around to Living” jam, and Harris’s absolutely soul-waking rendition of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” going into “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.” Mayer can shine on his own just fine in the limelight- but it’s clear that it’s just as important to him now to surround himself with world-class talent.

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-302Mayer’s other musical friendships were subtly on display as well. At the end of the first set, he snuck in a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” Through the course of the evening, he also sported a “92 Til Infinity” long-sleeve T, an homage to friend and Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller, who passed away a year ago to the day. Just as he showcased his band on stage, Mayer made sure to recognize his friends who couldn’t be there that night.

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-264And of course, Mayer masterfully ripped the guitar himself. He threw down tastefully intrepid solos on “Helpless,” “Rosie,” and “I Don’t Trust Myself (Loving You)” that made the boyfriends in the crowd look up from their phones. Slow-burners “Gravity” and “Slow Dancing” built and exhaled with spirited grace. He exuded a relaxation that made the entire arena feel comfortable.

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-114The anthemic energy of Mayer’s new single “Carry Me Away” (released just Friday) was the night’s biggest surprise. While the song’s studio recording didn’t best capture the holy energy we witnessed in the room, the live rendition re-instilled my faith in Mayer’s artistic vision.

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-323The post-intermission acoustic set won the award for audience favorite. Starting with his adaption of Beyoncé’s “XO” with harmonica, and sliding into live recording deep cut “In Your Atmosphere,” Mayer reminded that at 41 years young, he can still melt hearts. It was also the most he opened up on the mic between songs.

JOHN-MAYER-2019-0908-166Mayer consciously made sure his “stupid mouth” stayed out of the way. “I don’t wanna talk too much. Thirty seconds of talking on stage is like 8 minutes of talking. Let’s get back to the music.” Mayer’s only miscalculation of the evening was staying off the mic between songs- those were exactly the most memorable moments. His re-telling of a woman rudely waving her goodbye to him en route to an early exit got bellylaughs. He then went on to discuss what vernacular is socially acceptable at age 41. “I can get away with ‘dope.’ But I’m too old for ‘fire.’”

Maturity (musically or otherwise) is something that can’t be rushed and in Mayer’s case, we’re glad he took his time. I think, finally, Mayer is ready for action, and done “waiting on the world to change.”

See tons of concert photos on Austin 101.

Set list:

Set 1
Belief
Clarity
Who Says
Something Like Olivia
I Don’t Trust Myself (With Loving You)
Love on the Weekend
No Such Thing
Changing
Moving On and Getting Over
Deal (Grateful Dead cover)

Set 2
XO (Beyoncé cover)
Your Body Is a Wonderland
In Your Atmosphere
Helpless
Carry Me Away
Rosie
If I Ever Get Around to Living
Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
In the Blood
Waiting on the World to Change
Gravity (With snippet from “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember”)

Encore
Edge of Desire
New Light

JLo’s Stunning ‘It’s My Party’ is One of The Top Shows of 2019

San Antonio, Texas

by Jerri StarbuckUnknown-13(photos by Michael Amico)

Surprisingly, JLO has not had many tours considering she’s one of the top selling artists (selling over 80 million albums). It’s her first tour in 6 years and perfect timing for the San Antonio tour stop -and it was a special one. Not only is it JLo’s 50th birthday in July, but the city has a large latin presence and a huge fan base.

From the start, the vibe was a complete Vegas-style party with full DJ- and all glitz and glam.  Openers World of Dance (Lopez stars and produces) dancers were absolutely phenomenal. The opening to Lopez was the DJ “Go Shorty, it’s your birthday” (50 Cent) to get everyone in the birthday party mood. Lopez descended in a tiered bling chandelier dressed in all crystal bling (and boots) singing “Medicine” with full amusement park carousel and then trombone section dancing along with her—- the choreography was flawless with dancers in precision dressed in all white.

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One of the crowd’s favorite moments was her tribute to Texas native Selena. “Whenever I get to Texas I remember the beautiful time I spent here doing the movie Selena.” Lopez sang Selena’s “Yes Once/Si Una Vez” in Spanish to great applause (Lopez’s big break came when she portrayed the famous Tejana singer who’s life was cut short by tragedy). She wore a gorgeous red gown and was suspended and appeared to be floating. The video production on the screen was breathtaking with gorgeous, sensual shots of Lopez.

She topped off this portion of the set by singing briefly with daughter Emme during “Limitless” and yes her daughter can sing and she is beautiful and looks like her. It was a sweet special moment and one of the night’s highlights. One wonders if Emme is destined to follow in her mom’s footsteps.

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The set list seamlessly tied epic hit songs like “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”, “Jenny From the Block”, “If You Had My Love”, “Waiting For Tonight”, and more with newer ones. At times the show is nonstop, hit after hit, with a few built-in breathers for her costume changes. The killer finale was one of the best you’ll see all year with “Waiting For Tonight”, “Dance Again”, and “On the Floor” complete with perfectly planned 80’s throwback neon spandex bodysuits and tights (think Jane Fonda and Madonna). She came out  briefly for a one-song encore of “Dance Again” dressed as a Vegas showgirl with full feathers (a nod to her recent residency).

JLo has been a style queen forever and this show did not disappoint. There were all the big designers including Versace, Marchesa, Guess, Jebron, and others. She had a bling cane, bling mic and bling hat and water bottle. The fashion and style were a huge highlight for the show and an amazing feat by her stylist Rob Zangardi. We read there were 19 costume changes for Lopez plus 176 for the dancers and band. Bling is the theme of the night; she loves some sparkle. We read that the Swarovski crystal count tops one million including a dazzling piano and giant chandelier also blanketed in bling.

The entire production was off the charts including major pyro moments during her songs at the piano. Tons of pink smoke pyro too. There was a cool floating round stage that all the dancers and her had to time their choreography around and at other times it dropped below the stage. Other parts of the set were birthday-party focused with tons of balloons, huge life-size bday cake, and DJ party grooves – of course focused on her big 50th birthday coming July 24th.

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Lopez is known for some of the best lyrics- one of our faves -“Don’t be fooled by the rock that I got , I’m still Jenny from the block!” -got a huge crowd reaction during the set. “We had to show the children how we use to play when we were kids”! We love that she included several covers of top artists today like Drake, Sara Bareilles, David Guetta, and more, and made them her own.

JLo engaged the audience from start to finish including shaking hands, reading signs, and talking to them often. A surprise of the night was when she  brought a guy on stage on his birthday who got to sit in a chair center stage with dancing girls and yes, lap dances and then JLO surprising him from behind during hit song “If You Had My Love”, up close and personal. He had a huge grin the whole time and this will be a night he will remember the rest of his life.

Part show-stopping concert and part birthday party, Lopez also included important messages of inspiration to the crowd with words of wisdom of overcoming life’s obstacles and hard times and believing in yourself.  She proved why she is the icon she is today and one of the top shows of the year.

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Medicine
Love Don’t Cost a Thing
Get Right

I’m Into You
Waiting for Tonight
Louboutins
Goin’ In
I’m Real / All I Have / Feelin’ So Good / Ain’t It Funny
Jenny From the Block
Baby I Love U!
Hold It Don’t Drop It
Starting Over / I’m Glad / Secretly
If You Had My Love
Until It Beats No More
Dance Interlude
Let’s Get Loud
Papi
On the Floor
Encore:
Dance Again

Bon Jovi Concert Review: This House is Not For Sale Tour

by Jerri Starbuck

Bon Jovi’s This House is Not for Sale Tour– promoting album of same name- stopped in San Antonio’s AT&T Center (we had to make the trek since he wasn’t stopping in Austin).  The single was released in 2016 of the same name. November 4, 2016, the band officially released their 13th studio album, This House Is Not for Sale,  and then their third live album, This House Is Not for Sale – Live from the London Palladium, released on December 16, 2016. The tour marks the first time that Phil X and Hugh McDonald (bass) became official members of the band.

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At 56, Jon still looks amazing and youthful. He looks healthy, is in great shape-wearing his outfit of tight jeans and t-shirt- with a full head of hair most men envy. Francis Bongiovi Jr. is father of 4 and married to his long-time sweetheart since 1989. I think that’s what’s most impressive about his 4 decade career. This new jersey boy is a model for a rock star family man, let alone any marriage.

Although the absence of Richie Sambora is noticeable, Phil X (Phil Theofilos Xenidis) is pretty great and charismatic and pianist David Bryan was absolutely amazing to watch and playing both piano and keyboard at the same time-one in front one from behind. Bon Jovi is still one of the best rock bands ever selling over 130 million albums (in a time when that was impossible to achieve). This guy doesn’t need to tour and certainly doesn’t need the money. He truly seems to love performing and loves what he does.

Bon Jovi is finally being honored by getting inducted into the hall of fame class of 2018. Probably the biggest thrill of his music career.

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During the show, he played top hits and had a nice mix of ballads and high energy rock n roll-“It’s My Life”, “You give Love”, “Livin’ on a Prayer”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “Always”, “Bed of Roses”, “Bad Medicine”, “We weren’t born to follow” as well as great new ones. He is sincerely having a great time performing and being on stage-smiling and jumping and entertaining all through the set-just as high energy as ever.

At the beginning of the show, he kicked off with “You’re here to see me shake my ass so let’s get started!”The stage set, performance, sound and lighting was still an A-list stadium style, full sound show-  full guitars, drums and dual keyboards. Although his voice started off a bit rough (maybe even a bit off-key at times) but it smoothed out nicely for his huge a capella solo tracks that he did from the crowd.

A lot of his song lyrics and quotes are inspirational, motivational, uplifting and perhaps religious too-but always about believing in something. “Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Clause. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?”

See our full photo gallery from the show

We’ve always liked Bon Jovi’s American spirit and still today pay homage to America and patriotism and supporting our troops, without being political. There are flags and lyrics and red, white, and blue as well as images of vets and pride playing on the big screen behind him. And he still loves kissing the girls and making them scream for him. towards the end of the show, he jumped from the stage and started singing from the crowd (not sure if it was placed or not) and he took tons of selfies with fans, drinking their drinks and kissing girls. Same Jon.

We love the fact that he promotes local artists and brought on local Soul Tribe– a great local rock band. He does this for all his tour stops. That’s giving back and helping others. Check out this note he wrote for the Dallas opener.

Set list

This House is Not for Sale

Knockout

You Give Love a Bad Name
Whole Lot of Leavin’
Lost Highway
When We Were Us
Born to Be My Baby
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
It’s My Life
We Weren’t Born to Follow
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
We Got It Goin’ On
Keep the Faith
Amen
Bed of Roses
Lay Your Hands on Me
God Bless This Mess
Have a Nice Day
Bad Medicine

Encore:
(You Want to) Make a Memory
I’d Die for You
Wanted Dead or Alive
Livin’ on a Prayer