Oct 02 2006

'M' is for mammoth vocals, show

The Las Vegas Review Journal writes: Carey -- her nimble voice captivating -- performs for thousands at MGM Grand Mariah Carey opened wide and sang like she had a bullhorn stuck in her throat, her voice barreling from her lungs as if it was fired from a slingshot. "Ahhh-ah! Ahhh-ah! Ahhh-ah! Hee! Hee! Hee!" she trilled, stretching the notes as if they were made of soft taffy, indulging in vocal acrobatics like an auctioneer in hot pants. Too much is never enough at a Mariah Carey gig, where ostentation rules -- vocally and otherwise -- and even the glittery mic stands look like they cost more than your house. And Carey is the first to acknowledge as much. At the MGM Grand on Saturday, she anointed the night "diva Las Vegas," reveling in her own fabulousness before one of her deejays laid down some ground rules. "All the ugly people be quiet," DJ Suss One instructed, silencing anyone who didn't sparkle like Carey's golden microphone. Of course, beauty is only skin deep, and so are most of Carey's tunes. She specializes in lithe pop pep talks about overcoming this obstacle or that, employing birds and butterflies as metaphors for love. But if her songs often seem as if they were spun from cotton candy, Carey's jet engine voice aims to supply any missing heft. She sings the way a hotshot guitarist races up and down the fret board, supplying more fireworks than a dozen Fourth of Julys. On this night, Carey sang like a newborn emotes: loudly, freely and occasionally uncontrollably. She tore into early hit "Vision of Love" so forcefully that you could practically see the veins bulge in her neck as her voice leapt from one octave to the next. And on the soaring "Fly Like A Bird," she scatted feverishly over some dense percussion. For all her enviable range however, Carey's at her best when she harnesses her voice into a breathy purr, like on the come-hither ballad "My All" or with the nimble pop funk of "It's Like That." But Carey just seems to naturally gravitate toward the larger than life, and the production values of her current tour are as outsized as her voice. She performs on a stage backed by a towering illuminated "M," with her nickname, "Mimi," spelled out in giant white lights. At the MGM Grand, even the crowd was star studded: Carey was joined onstage from time to time by hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri, who was in town, and there were other celebrities in the stands, such as rapper Bow Wow, "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson and producer Jimmy Jam. But for all the big names and fancy props, the best moments of the night were the smaller, more intimate ones, such as when Carey sang a trio of songs from a checkered square stage set up in the middle of the arena, ending with a climactic take on "Always Be My Baby," which she finished on her knees.
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