Given the ubiquity of wide-legged jeans that I owned in high school, it may come as a surprise that my first concert was not the traditional rocking fare. REM came to my town when I was in eighth grade, but their show was on a school night so I wouldn’t be attending per the (fairly logical) ordinances of my parents. Shiny happy people? More like shiny happy long division. (That made so much more sense in my head.) My freshman year, U2 made the rounds with Rage Against the Machine in tow, and as much as I wanted to go (even though it was the famously weak PopMart tour), the show’s scheduling again conflicted with school. Would I be a live concert virgin forever? It certainly seemed so, and this frustrated me because I just wanted to give it up.
I was so desperate to see a concert that I dropped my standards considerably and opened myself up to the world of adult contemporary pop. As with first kisses and first cars, you settle for what you can get. You may want to shop at Forever 21, but Mama’s got a Talbot’s charge card so that’s where you’re going. I’d take that, though, because it’s better to be wearing mom jeans than to be naked. If I could be surrounded by a wall of speakers in an arena still smelling of pot and urine from when Tool came through nights earlier, I would gladly go to a show where my co-rockers actually owned rockers.
Enter Celine Dion.
If it’s gonna be your first time, you should start out slow and easy.
In 1997, one of my friends came upon some tickets to her show and invited me along with her. I was skeptical of Celine Dion because she was one of those singers who looked young but also teetered on the geriatric fence. I think this happens when your music is often heard playing in waiting rooms. Her husband was at least thirty years older than her too and that wasn’t helping her foster street cred to the younger set. These were pre-Titanic days, so Celine Dion was mostly known for wearing prom dresses in most of her videos and holding notes for upwards of 35 minutes by opening up her jaws as wide as a reticulated python. It was going to be on a Friday night, so I couldn’t use the school night excuse to get out of it. And since Ms. Dion certainly had the squeaky-clean thing going on, I knew there was no chance that my parents would veto the show on the grounds that seeing her shimmy and shake onstage would speed along my own depravity.
I remember hearing that the show in Memphis was going to be filmed and televised on cable, and at the time I felt lucky that I would witness firsthand a concert that was destined for glory. In actuality, though, the Memphis concert just gave Ms. Dion (supposed) license to dance around and gyrate in the style of Elvis. I cannot emphasize enough how little people in Memphis care about Elvis, so the instant she came out on stage wearing an all-white jumpsuit modeled after Elvis’ jumpsuit he wore in his later years, I heaved an inward sigh. This was going to be a long two hours.
Thanks to the glories of YouTube, I actually don’t have to tell you very much about the concert. Because BOOM. It is all there. For your viewing pleasure. You’re welcome.
I can say one thing about Celine Dion though: gal has got a set of pipes on her. She’s no Billy Corgan, of course, but it was a good first show for me to go to. I almost feel like seeing some of the harder rockers I was a fan of at the time without Celine as a buffer would have been too much of a shock to my system at such a tender age. You have to be finessed and romanced for your first concert experience.
And pro tip: if the singer sings a song called “All By Myself”, there is absolutely no chance you can get pregnant while at her show.
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