Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mariah Carey: Live On 2/10/10

In the wake of Whitney Houston, no other singer has worked the black female vocalist archetype as successfully Mariah Carey. Carey propelled throughout the decade of her genesis with a blend of adult soul flecked with gospel and pop. It was "Fantasy" that freed Carey from her genre bubble by injecting California hip-hop and dance into her music. The song planted a seed of what promised to be an interesting switch. Butterfly (1997) delivered on that promise by incorporating mainstream hip-hop/R&B colors without sacrificing her lyrical and vocal abilities.

Overnight, Carey's audience and music broadened. Yet Music Box (1993), Daydream (1995), and Rainbow (1999) struggled for a creative compromise. Carey's overindulgence cost her uniformity and quality in the long term. That stated, her discography never lacked for lost jewels ("All My Life," "Subtle Invitation"). Regaining commercial, critical, and (mostly) creative ambitions on The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), that set the stage for Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel (2009). This new album, like Glitter (2001) before it, was an uncanny portfolio of Carey's best and worst on one LP. Mariah Carey had been caught in the trap of balancing chart banality against art.

All of these thoughts knocked in my head as the curtain dropped to the stage floor at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio on the night of February 10th. Carey's The Angels Advocate Tour was my first live initiation to Mariah Carey. I waited to see if Carey could bring that balance that eluded her on record to a live setting. Swinging into her "Fly Away (Butterfly Reprise)" without any hint of the fatigue shown on recent television performances, Carey rose above my expectations.

Splitting between her classics ("Make It Happen," "Hero"), Carey plugged recent work too. The late-night grinder "The Impossible" bounced next to the reinvented '80's hip-hop of "It's Like That."
Carey's roof raising "Fly Like a Bird" and "My All" had everyone on their feet in glorious applause. Even recent (blunders) hits like "Touch My Body" and "Obsessed" were woven into the fabric of the evening to the joy or chagrin of some. Carey's live mash-up of Diana Ross' steamer "Love Hangover" and her own tarty "Heartbreaker" was the pinnacle of the evening. Carey's band, placed behind her on elevated platforms, gave the stage an uncluttered feel. Her backing vocalists, with longtime companion Trey Lorenz among the three, gave Carey strong support when needed. Further, Debbie Allen's choreography finally cleaned up Carey's messy background dancer issue, here the dancers framed Carey versus crowding her.

The show was brief, only an hour roughly, but Carey was funny and divalicious. She renewed my longtime faith in her, proving herself where it mattered most: on a concert stage.-QH

[Editor's Note: For more information on The Angels Advocate Tour, please]


undisco_me said...

Great peice - I think she's still in a good position, unlike the last perdiod where she wasn't commercially as successful as she could have been she's gained a critical success that alluded her 6 years ago or so. I think Angels Cry has just dented the top 20 here in the UK as well.

Anonymous said...

isnt Mariah half Columbian, half white?