“Christmas is almost upon us!” Mariah Carey he said to greet his audience at the Hollywood Bowl, which, okay, sure.
With more than five weeks (and a full Thanksgiving) until the holidays, the veteran pop star brought her latest Christmas concert extravaganza: This one is called “Merry Christmas Everyone!”, not to be confused with “Merry Christmas to all!” 2022. ” – to Los Angeles on Friday night for the first of two sold-out dates before the show begins its month-long run to Carey’s hometown of New York City.
Was it feeling particularly Christmassy outside the Bowl when a threat of light rain slowed traffic on Highland Avenue? You don’t have to be the Grinch to admit it wasn’t.
However, at 54 years old (and with her last studio album half a decade passed), Carey has certainly made Christmas her trademark (although recently lost an offer to register her nickname as Christmas Queen). There are books for children. There are television specials. There are the Naughty and Nice pajama sets that she sells on her website for $140.
And, of course, there is the annual return of their classic Christmas single.”All I want for Christmas is you” to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100, an unparalleled feat that requires an extensive runway to make happen every year.
So you can bet your mistletoe that Christmas had arrived inside the Bowl, where Carey emerged from an oversized gift in a sparkly red minidress to open Friday’s 90-minute production with a bit of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” ” as a couple. of dancers and a group of dancers dressed as buttons revolved around her. Backed by a solid live band and joined occasionally by a small choir, Carey proceeded to perform a series of hymns, pop tunes and fast-paced originals, including “Jesus Born on This Day,” a sumptuous and rarely performed number from her 1994 song “Merry Christmas,” which she sang here as a duet with her 12-year-old daughter, Monroe.
Her frequent producer, Jermaine Dupri, appeared during “Here Comes Santa Claus,” along with Monroe’s twin brother, Morocco, and a dancing Santa Claus who wandered around the stage handing out gifts; “Joy to the World” was a religious club jam that had a pulsating gospel house beat.
“Are we being festive?” Carey asked at one point, and sure enough, the crowd was filled with people in festive attire of various kinds. “I love hats,” she said. “And the tiaras – the ti-ahhh-ras.”
Although her voice is no longer the miracle it was three decades ago on “MTV Unplugged,” Carey still sings live with an impressive mix of muscle and finesse: sharp and bird-like on “Oh Santa!”, which featured its characteristic whistling tone; guttural and yearning in her version of Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” She used “Silent Night” to showcase the intricate vocal performances that helped shape an entire generation of post-Mariah singers, and it was encouraging to see that she continues to enjoy challenging herself.
But what makes the Christmas material work is the way Carey’s salty personality contrasts with the saccharine nature of the material. Shortly after Friday’s show, she summoned her glam team to the stage for a quick touch-up, telling the audience she thought it would be easier than going backstage and making a big deal of it, precisely the opposite of how it actually happened ( as she clearly understood). Later, after nearly slipping on a puddle of someone’s “hair grease,” as she described it, she asked a crew member to come mop the stage and then mopped herself while improvising a song on the stage. regard.
The modern pop diva requires a careful balance between queen and folksy, but no one has perfected that balance like Carey, which is all the more impressive given that she started long before social media codified much of how we think about dating a woman. celebrity.
Near the end of the evening, he mentioned that “a couple of people” had told him he should incorporate some non-Christmas songs into his set. “Actually, he was my agent,” she added. “I will only tell the truth.” That was her introduction to a medley of old songs like “Always Be My Baby,” “Heartbreaker” and “Emotions,” to name three of her 19 number one hits. (Only the Beatles have more, with 20). She also gave full renditions of “We Belong Together,” a welcome demonstration, with its clever interpolations of Bobby Womack and Babyface tunes, of why Carey was inducted last year into the Songwriters Hall. of Fame – and her early ’90s power ballad “Hero.”
She returned, happily though inevitably, with the reason this is her season: “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” for which she had donned a dazzling leotard with a kind of sexy “Nutcracker” energy and which caused a shower. of fake white flakes on the stage.
“It finally snowed in Los Angeles!” Carey said before the company took a bow. When she left, “All I Want” was in the low 30s on Spotify’s Top 50 chart and had yet to re-enter the Hot 100. But it’s still November.
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