Mariah Carey flaunts star power at the Dodge
by Larry Rodgers, The Arizona Republic
As she moves past the two-decade mark in her career, Mariah Carey seems to be having lots of fun with her well-earned diva image, letting her concert audience in on her lighthearted approach to life.
Carey often made herself the target of her playful stage banter as a large crowd at Phoenix's Dodge Theatre laughed and cheered her on Saturday, Feb. 20.
In between the power ballads and dance-inducing numbers in her well-executed, 90-minute set, the singer-actress repeatedly referred to her loopy speech at January's Palm Springs International Film Awards, which she attributed to "splashes of champagne" enjoyed backstage.
"No, it's not vodka in the glass - water, darling, only H-20," she quipped as she took a sip after singing 2005's "Don't Forget About Us" (which Carey said she hadn't sung yet on this tour).
"You'll never know," she added. "Maybe you will; it depends on what type of speeches I start making."
Whatever Carey was fueled on, she sounded and looked great in the series of sexy dresses that she squeezed into during the show.
With her husband, actor-rapper Nick Cannon, in the house, Carey started things off in true diva fashion, descending from the rafters above the stage on a swing in a sparkling gown with ruffles.
She quickly got down to the business of making the crowd, dominated by 20- and 30-somethings, move.
"Shake It Off" segued into the soulful funk of the chart-topping "Touch My Body." Surrounded by six male dancers, Carey let her voice soar into its upper registers, a talent that separates her from most of her contemporaries.
She largely nailed the notes in the upper stratosphere on such songs as "Honey" and "Obsessed."
Carey, who let her troupe of male and female dancers do most of the physical work, did a good job of mixing the hip-hop she has sampled later in her career with the ballads that have long allowed her vocals to shine.
She served it up with plenty of drama, which included a pair of acrobats suspended above her for "Angels Cry" and the singer reclining in a red robe on a divan to deliver the Latin-flavored "My All."
At one point, a makeup artist and hair stylist came out to freshen up her look as Carey joked, "If you tolerate me, I'll just love you forever."
The crowd went wild when Carey sang "The Impossible," which she dedicated to her husband. As the diva worked through her breathy vocals, a male dancer performed a steamy routine just a few feet away, pulling off his shirt to reveal his chiseled physique when the song ended.
Fans of all ages joined in to sing 1996's "Always Be My Baby," after Carey said, "I'm gonna go old-school." Everyone seemed to be dancing in front of their seats for the ultra-funky "It's Like That."
Despite some extended breaks to change costumes, Carey had the crowd on her side for the entire evening, which ended with one of her signature songs.
The global hit, "Hero," allowed Carey to dish out a few more minutes of the star power that she still possesses.
Photo: Cheryl Evans, The Arizona Republic