“Twenty years ago, they gave me the gift of this song,” Celine Dion announced onstage during Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees, an all-star tribute concert that was taped Feb. 14 at Los Angeles’s Microsoft Theater and aired Sunday night on CBS. “Tonight, I sing it with love for Barry, as well as for Robin, Maurice, and Andy.”
Dion was referring to “Immortality,” which the Bee Gees composed especially for her 1997 album Let’s Talk About Love. (The Brothers Gibb also contributed background vocals to the track.) Much has changed since Dion recorded the dramatic ballad two decades ago. Last year, Dion lost her both her husband/manager René Angélil and brother Daniel to cancer, just two days apart, and Barry Gibb’s brothers and bandmates, Maurice and Robin, respectively died in 2003 and 2012. (A younger Gibb sibling, teen idol Andy, passed away in 1988 five days after his 30th birthday; Gibb family matriarch Barbara Gibb died last August at age 95, and the Bee Gees’ longtime manager, Robert Stigwood, also died last year at 81.) So as Dion serenaded Barry, who was sitting in the Microsoft Theater audience, “Immortality” understandably took on much greater emotional weight.
“So this is who I am/And this is all I know/And I must choose to live,” Dion sweetly sang, locking eyes with Barry. “Immortality/I make my journey through eternity/I keep the memory of you and me inside… We don’t say goodbye.” At the end of the tear-jerking, powerful performance, she and Barry embraced, two old friends and survivors comforting one another as the misty-eyed crowd cheered.
The rest of the evening was more upbeat, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Bee Gees’ landmark, 40-million-selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and leaning heavily towards the trio’s massive disco hits. Fever star John Travolta even showed up in a Tony Manero blazer (“Something happens when I put on a white jacket,” he quipped), telling the audience, “In a weekend, [the Bee Gees] wrote five stunning masterpieces, the core of the greatest soundtrack album ever.” The evening climaxed with Barry Gibb himself hitting the stage for a performance of three Fever smash singles — “Jive Talkin,” “You Should Be Dancing,” and “Stayin’ Alive,” proving that when it comes to immortality, the music the Gibbs made together will last forever.
The full Stayin’ Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees setlist was as follows:
“Stayin’ Alive”/ “Tragedy”/ “How Deep Is Your Love/“Night Fever” medley – Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly, Little Big Town & Andra Day
“To Love Somebody” – Keith Urban
“Massachusetts” – Ed Sheeran
“Lonely Days” – Panic! At the Disco
“Tragedy” – Tori Kelly
“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” – John Legend & Stevie Wonder
“Islands in the Stream” – Kelsea Ballerini & Thomas Rhett
“Immortality” – Celine Dion
“Night Fever” – DNCE
“If I Can’t Have You” – Demi Lovato
“More Than a Woman” – Jason Derulo & Tavares
“How Deep Is Your Love” – Little Big Town
“Love So Right” – Andra Day
“I Just Want to Be Your Everything” – Nick Jonas
“Too Much Heaven” – Pentatonix
“Emotion” – Katharine McPhee
“Jive Talkin’”/“You Should Be Dancing” – Barry Gibb
“Stayin’ Alive” – Barry Gibb with all-star cast