Sep 29 2006

High-energy show thrills Carey's fans

The Sacramento Bee writes: Five octaves. Four costume changes. Three back-up singers. Two stages. One Mariah. When Mariah Carey's "Adventures of Mimi: the Voice, the Hits, the Tour" rolled into Sacramento Wednesday night for a sold-out stop at Arco Arena, the 36-year-old singer proved that, despite a very public 2001 emotional breakdown, she's currently at the top of her game. The show kicked off with a video clip of a rollercoaster with Carey's voice-over declaration that "whatever doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger." Amen, sister. When the singer finally took the stage breaking into "It's Like That," the first single from 2005's "The Emancipation of Mimi," there was little doubt that Carey has more than weathered the rocky rollercoaster ride of public taste. (Question: What's more ear-piecing -- the sound of Carey's impressive voice reaching for that final octave or the glass-shattering shrieks of her fans? We may never know.) With a giant KISS-worthy "Mimi" sign, a medley that condensed several hit singles into 10 minutes and an elaborate two-tiered stage (complete with several video screens, wind machines, two sweeping staircases and a giant "MC" logo), the night often ventured into Vegas revue territory. That effect was further emphasized when Carey used video clips to stand in for actual guest vocals. Jay-Z, for example, was represented MTV-style on "Heartbreaker." But even those not normally fans of such theatrics or Carey's brand of hand-wringing vocal gymnastics (particularly on mawkish power ballads such as "Hero" and "Fly Like a Bird") would find it difficult to dismiss her charasmatic showmanship. Throughout the set, which came in at just under two hours, the Long Island native exuded a poised charm. Basking in the love of her audience -- tossing off coy waves, flirtations and no fewer than two dozen Sacramento shout-outs -- Carey was at once a seasoned diva and the homegirl next door. You admire her star power and awe-inducing voice but can still imagine that, just for kicks, Mariah might want to hang out with you at the mall on a Saturday afternoon. It's a heady charm and it makes it easy to understand the fierce devotion Carey elicits. When she took to the main floor's catwalk stage for three numbers, bringing her that much closer to a throng of delighted fans, the excited energy was infectiously giddy. Highlights of the evening included a saucy rendition of "Always Be My Baby" and an in-the-flesh duet with longtime collaborator Trey Lorenz on "I'll Be There." The show ended with a short encore featuring "Butterfly" and a drift of pink and purple butterfly-shaped confetti. As Carey disappeared from the stage, her voice still echoing throughout Arco, fans dived to the floor to grab for the tiny, glittery souvenirs. It was a fitting end that seemed to embody the rise and fall and rise of Carey's career. We imagine that if she'd taken one final look back over her shoulder, the Queen of Comebacks would've appreciated the scene.
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