Mariah Carey review: This real diva knows how it's done
It's not just that Mariah Carey's famed, five-octave vocal range is still intact.(Though it is.)
It's the sum total of all things gloriously and ineffably Mariah that made last night's Melbourne concert such a multi-sensory delight.
Admittedly, we were nervous. We'd read her recent bad reviews. We'd seen the videos in which she struggles to reach the high notes. Had the world's best-selling female singer lost her touch?
A handful of songs and one costume change in – as Carey hit her stride with a pitch-perfect rendition of Cry – the answer was clear.
But a high-fidelity replay of greatest hits does not a concert make. And this is where Carey really stepped up and delivered. Despite a curiously pared-back set design and graphics – and a backing band on the smallish side – the charmingly eccentric Mariah magic was on full display.
What better way to open than with classics such as Fantasy and Emotions? If you're Mariah, you enhance the experience with a full-length, hot pink, fishtail velvet gown – accessorised with a wind machine and synthetic smoke. You stroke your hair a lot. When a high note is on the horizon, you brace yourself by touching your ear and adopting a pained expression, provoking the crowd into losing its collective mind.
Having started the show a customary half-hour late, you vanish after just 10 minutes to slip into something a little more uncomfortable – and a lot more fabulous: Rialto-height stilettos with an outfit that's sparky up top, short down below, and offset with some kind of train.
As you belt out Cry, a pre-recorded, black-and-white melodrama unfolds on the giant screen behind you. It features you swirling around in circles with a handsome suitor, then collapsing into a comely faint, the back of your silk-gloved hand resting lightly on your forehead. At one point, a buff shirtless man wanders in front of the screen, does what appears to be Pilates stretch, then disappears. It is a perfectly magnificent spectacle.
You banter with the crowd, ribbing them for failing to warn you that everyone would be wearing fancy hats on Tuesday. This left you shockingly unprepared for public appearances.
"Tell me the name of that holiday again?" you ask.
"Melbuhn Caaaaarp!" the crowd shouts back in 'Strine, to your bemused incomprehension.
As a surprise, you summon support act Nathaniel Willemse to duet on One Sweet Day. Fans weep openly in the front row. It's another highlight.
Honey, Touch My Body, Thirsty, Supernatural, Fly Like A Bird, and a medley of other hits are all performed wonderfully. Sometimes accompanied by ripped shirtless boys spinning on their heads – and why the hell not?
Hero, which has everyone singing along, is backed by a photo montage that includes Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and aid workers plucking distressed children out of disaster zones. For some reason, you decide to splice in pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Lee. But you are Mariah, and this your show, and it all feels weirdly appropriate.
Almost two hours in, you farewell us with We Belong Together. There is no encore but fans don't seem to expect it. With a flourish, you gather your enormous, electric blue hoop dress – the evening's second fishtail number – and sashay into the night.