Céline Dion delivers big moments in a TD Garden lovefest

Celine Dion performed at the TD Garden Friday.
Celine Dion performed at the TD Garden Friday.Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe/The Boston Globe

Céline Dion stood onstage at TD Garden, taking everything in — the stuffed-to-the-rafters crowd, the loud cheers emanating from it, the adrenaline that was clearly flowing through her after her passionate, steadily building version of Eric Carmen’s heartbroken 1975 smash “All By Myself.” As the roars subsided, she would ready herself to speak, but that only encouraged the assembled to scream louder, chanting her first name. The push-pull went on for a few minutes, each side of the communication wringing the maximum emotion out of each other, until Dion asked the crowd, her voice trembling, if she could take a sip of water. Which, of course, she could.

Such is the supercharged atmosphere at a show by the Quebecois singer, who has been one of pop’s reigning benchmarks for big, showy singing for decades. Her crossover into the English-language — and American — markets in the 1990s was aided by plush vocal showcases that nestled into adult-contemporary playlists of the era, like the title track to Disney’s animated “Beauty and the Beast” and the guarded “If You Ask Me To.” As the years went by, her hits’ unassailable nature grew alongside her vocal prowess, peaking commercially with the 1997 “Titanic”-affiliated mega-hit “My Heart Will Go On.”


Dion’s shows this weekend were her first Boston appearances in more than a decade, she noted Friday, dryly adding that she’d been “locked up” in the Nevada desert — specifically, Las Vegas, where she spent the bulk of the decade in residence at Caesars Palace. Her tour is named after her recent album “Courage,” on which she collaborated with KISS 108-playlisted artists like Sam Smith and Sia. The two songs featured from that album on Friday, the title track and the steely “Imperfections,” are more in line with pop’s current trends toward subdued vocals, though Dion’s emotion, particularly on “Courage,” was by no means absent.

Still, it was the songs with the biggest moments — the highest heights, the longest-sustained notes — that brought the house down again and again. She opened with “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” an opera-in-miniature that’s also been performed by the similarly showy Meat Loaf; other artists would have probably saved that for later in the set, because it usually leaves little wiggle room for sonic growth, but Dion had few qualms. Her smoldering “The Power of Love” could melt even the hardest heart; a pre-encore medley of ’70s and ’80s hits, meanwhile, made one wonder what a duet might have been like between Dion and Freddie Mercury, whose “Another One Bites the Dust” she vamped through with aplomb.


The encore was — naturally — headed up by “My Heart Will Go On,” which countered its steadfastness with an army of twinkling drones that gave the Garden a starlit feel. Dion and her band concluded the show with a solemn version of “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” which Dion called a “message of peace and harmony for this holiday season.” If the rest of the show’s energy exchange was anything to go by, the area around North Station probably experienced a potent uptick in its holiday-cheer quotient.

Maura Johnston can be reached at maura@maura.com.


At TD Garden, Friday (also Saturday)