Aug 07 2006

Mariah Carey's "Adventures" tour showcases a well-toned and well-honed talent.

< > The LA Times writes: Emancipation elation MARIAH CAREY has an unusual body for a modern-day pop goddess — voluptuous and solid instead of willowy and elastic. It's a singer's body, not a dancer's, built to house the multi-octave pipes that have allowed the 36-year-old singer to rule the radio dial for 16 years. Carey showed off that body, toned and tanned, at the opening Saturday night of the North American leg of her tour. At American Airlines Arena, she was swathed in artfully cut out chiffon gowns and sequined hot pants that Ann-Margret would have enjoyed in her prime and used a burlesque dancer's straight-back chair, a winding staircase and other props to prove that she could move those long legs and that curvy torso. But Carey never let choreography get in the way of what her body was there for: to help her sing in ways that have, as she said with a modest shrug near the end of the 90-minute-plus concert, "changed people's lives." No one works as hard to balance inspiration and flash as Carey, who started her career selling the ageless appeal of pure vocal prowess only to sustain it by turning herself into a trend-savvy hip-hop home girl. This new production — entitled "The Adventures of Mimi," in reference to her multiplatinum 2005 album, "The Emancipation of Mimi" — seeks to meld the uplifting Mariah and the modish one by surrounding a traditional prima donna's turn with the accouterments of urban music. There were acrobatic dancers; video clips of rappers with whom Carey has collaborated, such as Jay-Z and the late ODB; and references to milestones in her transformation from girl next door to hot mama, including the sailor suits of her 1997 video for "Honey" and the video catfights of her "Heartbreaker" era (the clips now featured assert she's grown beyond all that). Her mixmaster, the eminent DJ Clue, was the night's most prominently featured musician. In the end, though, flowing gowns and sequins won out over booty shorts, which was wise, since it's the warmth she brings to awe-inspiring glamour that makes Carey's fans love her. Especially satisfying were the duets Carey shared with backing vocalist Trey Lorenz; when these longtime singing partners traded high notes on the ballads "I'll Be There" and "One Sweet Day," Carey really eased into her performance. She was happiest simply expressing her gifts and, in doing so, allowing her fans to consider their own perhaps unemancipated potential. It's a function singers have served at least since the coloratura came into style in opera — the female voice, reaching far beyond the confines of ordinary speech, carries the listener beyond the humdrum of her daily imaginings. As Carey put it in the song she described as the most personal on her latest album, great singing makes the soul "Fly Like a Bird." Carey's Miami audience, a wide-ranging mix including grade-schoolers with their parents, South Beach clubbers and pregnant women with husbands in tow, grooved to DJ Clue's beats, but they really got excited on the midtempo numbers whose climaxes gave Carey room to soar. When Carey moved to a small stage mid-arena, she got the crowd climbing on seats, not to check out her "Charlie's Angels" sunglasses but to cheer her holding one last note on the poignant "Don't Forget About Us" until it seemed like she would break. She never broke, no matter how fretfully she muttered about not being able to hear the band or apologized for taking sips of water. Like the silver-screen queens she admires, Carey's not just a femme fatale but also a trouper, and her years of delivering hits, even with a midcareer dip, have resulted in hard-won consistency. On this anxious night, she proved herself a solid talent and was best when she allowed herself the pleasure of her own strengths.
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