The elusive chanteuse herself, Mariah Carey, arrived in London yesterday. Performing to a sold-out crowd at the O2 arena, it marked the latest stop on her Sweet Fantasy tour. And of course, as was the case over a decade ago when she last toured the UK, I was there with the Lambs!
Behold, my 7 biggest surprises of the "Sweet Fantasy" tour:*Note: None of the videos below are mine. My attention was squarely on Mariah, the voice and my booze - in that order!*
7) It was BUDGET! No shade to Mariah, but this was one of the cheapest looking shows I've been to at the O2. No screens showing the Diva performing, no set pieces, and no opening act, it was most definitely a frugal moment. Still, with the voice as good as it was on the night, none of it was necessary.
6) The "whisper" register and falsetto sounded strong. The Diva's live showings over the last few years have seen these two areas of the voice changing, for the worse IMO, becoming lighter and airer. However, yesterday saw them back stronger, fuller and freer.
5)Loverboy lives! I couldn't believe Mimi performed this (personal) favourite. Sure, it was only a snippet, but it was worth it. Previous to this tour, I don't think she's ever sung the Candy-sampling song live.
The Glitter soundtrack is awesome, so I'm glad she's finally giving it a Lil Love.
4) Her stamina is much improved! There was a point where even walking around the stage seemed to be too much for Mimi. Yesterday saw a different, more determined Diva out on show. Not only was there a noticeable improvement in her breath support and stamina, but the stage presence was great, too.
3)Consistency throughout the voice. Usually it's too easy to tell when Mariah is lipping notes. Why? Because there's often a distinct contrast between the live upper-belts, which are edgier and strained, and the pre-recorded stuff, which is light and free. However, yesterday found Mariah in such good voice that it was really hard to tell what was live and what wasn't. Could it all have been live? Doubtful, but it didn't detract from how impressive she sounded.
*The climax of Glasgow rendition of We Belong Together shows what I mean clearer than any O2 footage I could find. So I've embedded that.
2)Whistles were on point. Mariah's highest register hasn't gone anywhere- like some claim. In fact, she was hitting the notes LIVE and so effortlessly that I was a little taken aback.
1) When You Believe duet. The biggest surprise came from the inclusion of The Prince Of Egypt duet. Considering Whitney has passed, I had accepted the chances of When You Believe ever getting a live showing again had gone with her. Of course it didn't compare to having Whitney there, but it was genuinely a moving moment, and a great tribute, to The Voice. It had the person next to me in tears!
Mariah, you really did deliver! Shame on me for doubting you, walking into the arena. Whatever voodoo you're working on that voice, keep doing it!