You attend a Mariah Carey concert to be in the dreamlike presence of a super-diva, not expecting to be wooed by artful razzle-dazzle or the singer’s dexterous dance moves. Those aerobics are in her voice, a supreme many-octave instrument that worked for 95 minutes during her “Angels Advocate Tour” Monday at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
She still nailed that infamous whistle note (several times during the vintage surprise “Emotions,” her hit from 1991), went all bat-shit belty on the rousing “Fly Like a Bird” and made fierce girl-anthem “It’s a Wrap,” a song off her current album “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” sound better than its recording.
The voice wasn’t the only spectacle. Mariah, who seemed especially at ease (with only one glass of bubbly, that we know of), played up the diva image – satirizing it, even – during the simple and classy show: being freshened up on stage, making mock demands and opening it in a way that only the diva of all divas would.
Double the diva
You can sip water from a straw (like Mariah did) and sing a ballad in a bathrobe (like Mariah also did), but what’s more diva-like than doing another diva’s song? Mariah, in a dress and a shoulder piece made of faux-fur, started with Diana Ross’ sultry “Love Hangover” before merging into her own hit, “Heartbreaker.” Sounds familiar, right? The singer did exactly the same mash-up during “VH1 Divas Live” in 2000. These days, though, Mariah’s not just having love hangovers.
“If there’s a camera up in here … “
Oh the irony of that “Touch My Body” threat, “If there’s a camera up in here, then I best not catch this flick on YouTube.” No clips would make it onto the Web, however, because cameras were strictly prohibited. And, most shockingly, so were phones, which had to be turned off and put away during the performance. You might catch her at a bad angle, and we can’t have that.
Mariah Carey … or Glinda the Good Witch?
There she was, all magically glowing from an adorned swing that descended from the heavens – or was it the ceiling? – as she ate up every scream, applause and bald head. Instrumentals from her ballad “Butterfly” played as she was lowered and a ruffled ball gown threatened to inhale the whole venue. She wore sparkly bracelets and earrings. Even her mic gleamed. The camera/phone ordeal wouldn’t have been one if only she came with one more accessory: a magic wand.
Touch me up
A girl’s gotta look good, and Mariah’s fully aware of that. Which is why, before she launched into the jazzy “Subtle Invitation” (laying cozily on a couch, mind you), she called her grooming team out to, well, touch her body and have them pretty it up. Hair was primped; sweat was dabbed. She acknowledged it as “a complete and total diva moment.” And it was.
Working hard-ly for the money
When Mariah wasn’t gently swaying to “Touch My Body” or “Shake It Off,” she was sitting, lounging or standing in place. In fact, her two fist-pumping arms did more work than the rest of her body, which after “My All” did nothing at all as it was carried off stage by some hot dancer. During “Obsessed,” her dancers lifted her up like she was on top of her own world. She was. We were just momentarily basking in it.