Carey delivers like a down-to-earth diva
By Sarah Rodman, The Boston Globe
At first it seemed like a bit.
But Mariah Carey wasn't kidding, when, about a half hour into her performance Saturday night, she summoned her hair and makeup team to the Citi Wang Theatre stage for a touch-up. "I know this is an over-the-top moment," Carey said with a grin as she was powder-puffed and fluffed while sipping her vanity brand of Angel champagne from a personalized flute. (Oenophiles take note, the Rose is coming!) And although she later sincerely thanked the crowd for tolerating her prima donna antics it's precisely that mix of diva and daffiness that endears Carey to her fans and that worked to make the hour-and-40-minute show a captivating mix of sparkle, silliness, and vocal pyrotechnics.
What the show lacked in confetti blasts and video screens it made up for in intimacy. Crucially, the smaller hall meant vastly superior sound quality for her best-selling blend of pop, retro soul, gospel, and hip-hop.
Carey spun through her two-decade career of hits. While there were many images of love, including the joy of her married life with Nick Cannon on "The Impossible," there was no "Vision of Love" as she gave shorter shrift to her early adult contemporary ballads and concentrated mainly on her latter day, fidgety hip-hop soul incarnation.
The seven member band - including three snazzy vocalists - was as tight as Carey's outfits. The tickling percussion and bubbly bass lines of newer tracks like "Touch My Body" were crisply funky and the ballads soared in all the right places. Carey was in strong voice belting out old school pop numbers like "Emotions" and rhythm-heavy newer tunes like "Obsessed" with salty swagger and impressive technique. Carey dug giddily into the saucy kiss-off of the doo-wop laced "It's a Wrap," from her most recent release "Memoirs of An Imperfect Angel."
The physical stiffness that comes with the singer's preference for stiletto heels and second skin wardrobe aside, she seemed more relaxed than ever. As a cadre of dancers and aerialists cavorted around her on the simple stage - a high white-curtained bandstand with pink trim - Carey reveled in the energy of the crowd and in simply singing the songs as opposed to worrying about arena-mandated spectacle. That down-to-earth vibe led to easy, clearly unplanned comic banter. At one point, before dedicating the ballad "Angels Cry" to the Haiti quake victims, Carey quipped, "I'm going to put on my serious hat, which is a really small hat."
The hat may be small, and the songs often frothy and cotton candy sweet, but the voice remains big.Carey playing the diva: She's pitch-perfect
By Lauren Carter, Boston Herald
Carey alternately revealed brilliance and self-consciousness when approaching her songs: "My All," the gospel-inspired "Fly Like a Bird" and early career hit "Emotions" were all powerhouse stunners, boasting the mix of smoky tones, soulful trills and high-octave whistles that have become her trademark. Other times, the statuesque songstress seemed to be holding back, carefully reining herself in so as not to falter; she appeared to lip-sync during the climax of "The Impossible," the song she wrote for hubby Nick Cannon, as well as sections of the sassy "Up Out My Face" and the entirety of "Angels Cry."
As those song choices reveal, the night featured several tracks off her latest album, "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel," among them hit single "Obsessed" and "It's a Wrap," one of the night's best vocal efforts.
But her older material wasn't forgotten. For a change of pace, Carey included the hip-hop flavor of "Honey," a slightly remixed "It's Like That" and the midtempo come-on of "Touch My Body," punctuated by a few well-timed shakes and squiggles.
"Make It Happen" served as a wardrobe-change interlude, with her band and dancers on stalling duty until Carey emerged for the song's climax.
Carey closed the show on her best note, putting vocal acrobatics in the spotlight on the career comeback-inducer "We Belong Together" and inspirational ballad "Hero." Lest we forget, the diva can sing.