|Mariah Carey has made a dramatic comeback after falling into an emotionally turbulent period of her life. With a career spanning nearly two decades, 8 years since the last DVD, a few months since receiving a "recording star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the multi-award winning album The Emancipation of Mimi, she has committed her most recent and most successful tour to film.|
At 37 years of age, this is Miss Carey's attempt to establish herself in the firmament along side R&B divas such as Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. She is taking no prisoners and placed award-winning producer, Ken Ehrlich, at the helm of the show in Anaheim, California, during October 2006. He is a master at live music visual recordings having produced the Grammy Awards for the last 10 consecutive years as well as DVDs for the Spice Girls, Elton John, Ricky Martin and Simon and Garfunkel.
Carey's stage is like a remarkable shrine. Her trademark letter M is ubiquitous so that her presence is tangible before she makes a fairly conventionally back-lit entrance. She emerges from the heart of the set like a Glamazon - literally shimmering in gold body glitter from head to toe, yet looking pretty fragile, tottering about in incredibly high heels and needing assistance down the stairs.
She performs songs from her entire back catalogue, from the old power ballads, "for the nostalgia", to the sexiest Hip Hop from The Emancipation Of Mimi. Lest we forget the power of her cultural impact, the camera constantly pans across the milieu of mimicking fans during the biggest hits. For example, We Belong Together held the Hot 100's number-one position in the United States for 14 weeks and there doesn't seem to be a soul in the room who isn't belting it out.
She won't win any public speaking awards for asking the audience "can I get some loudness?" or praising the dancers' "spectacularity" but special guests, Boyz II Men, get an especially lacklustre introduction. It's a shame since the reunion for One Sweet Day is the most exciting and soulful highlight of the concert.
Impressively she doesn't appear take breath at any point as she effortlessly showcases her five octave range. During the most demanding numbers, like I'll Be There and My All, she struggles to hit top notes although her dog whistle falsetto is squeaky clean. Yet it is too glossy. Her sterile whining hits every note flawlessly but seeing her smile throughout what should be a rendering of complex emotions feels more deeply contrived, overly controlled and artificial than charming. There are few moments when the veneer of Carey's exhibition breaks down and there, just peeking its head out, is exhilarating, raw passion for the song.
This saccharine ceremony is groomed, airbrushed and overblown to perfection; it impresses rather than expresses emotional content. This is no intimacy. Furthermore, the superfluous establishing shots emphasise the dearth of anything more than the briefest of close ups. American Idol does it all much better.
The behind the scenes documentary is a collection is idle gossip, empty bragging and posing. The jukebox function is not a fantastic addition and feels a little aimless.
The show has none of the energy Madonna brings to the stage, the extravagance of Cher, or the drama of Streisand but Mariah is certainly another step closer to ensuring her place amongst the elite echelon of recording and performing artists.