Mariah Carey brings Christmas hits to Ball Arena

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Mariah Carey brings Christmas hits to Ball Arena |
As soon as the clock struck midnight on November 1, Mariah Carey posted a TikTok that depicted her inside of a vault, trapped in a solid block of ice. But the singer shattered her frosty prison with an iconic (and high-pitched) declaration: "It's time!" she sang, marking the beginning of the 2023 #MariahSZN.

Comments such as "Mariah Carey is slowly defrosting for Christmas as we speak" and memes of the singer trapped in ice have been circulating the internet since the beginning of October - an annual tradition that Carey has wholeheartedly embraced since it began with a few tweets in 2017.

The singer, known for her five-octave vocal range and use of the whistle register, brought defrosted hits from her holiday albums, 1994's Merry Christmas and 2010's Merry Christmas II You, to Ball Arena on November 21. The show was her third stop on the Merry Christmas One and All tour, in which Carey is bringing her holiday tunes as well as throwback hits to thirteen cities through December 17. Here are five takeaways from her Denver performance:

She attracts a wide age range
Before Carey hit the stage, her opener, DJ Suss One, took a verbal poll of the generations present in the arena. The '80s babies seemed to dominate, but surprisingly, DJ Suss received cheers from people born in every decade from 1940 to 2000. Children, sporting flashing lightbulb necklaces and Christmas tree sunglasses, were plentiful, but so were the middle-aged women decked out in glittering dresses, ready for a girls' night on the town.

She can still hit the high notes
Most people have seen the painful videos of live singers who sound nothing like their recordings (hello, Carly Rae Jepsen), but Carey is not one of them. Although her smash hit, "All I Want for Christmas Is You", was released in October of 1994, the 54-year-old's voice is as sharp and clear as it was thirty years ago. She openly discusses her vocal-cord nodules in struggles with vocal fatigue in interviews, but her insane ability to hit notes in the highest register humanly possible - known as the whistle register - is very much alive and well. During the Ball Arena concert, Carey seemed to shatter the piercing vocal runs with mind-bending ease. She plugged one ear and waved her finger in the air, hitting every pitch while striding casually across the stage.

She knows how to commit to a theme
As the tour's title suggests, the show was an explosion of Christmas. The stage looked like a winter wonderland: The white floor and risers shone like freshly fallen snow, and giant ice mounds lurked in the background. Even the instruments were white, and the baby grand piano, embossed with Carey's name, blended into the scene. The circular screen behind the stage added to the illusion, making the whole setup appear as though it were in a giant snow globe. Child ballerinas emerged from giant presents that were wheeled on stage, with sweaters and earmuffs abounding, while Carey's outfits (there were five in total) were mostly red and appropriately glitzy.

After an hour of straight Christmas tunes including "Sleigh Ride" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing", Carey threw in some of her less festive but still necessary bops, such as "Always Be My Baby" and "A No No", a collection she called the "2023 MC hit list". But this portion of the concert didn't feel like an add-on to a Christmas performance - she fully committed to the theme change. Lights bathed the stage in a decidedly not-Christmas hot pink, and Carey and her dancers ditched the red sparkles and winter gear for glittery silver get-ups.

The show felt intimate
Even though the performance was in Ball Arena, which can hold more than 20,000 people, Carey's easy chatter and constant interaction with the audience created the vibe of an intimate venue. She often spoke between songs, introducing everyone on stage and even calling her glam team out to touch up her makeup while she spoke into the mic. She complimented the audience's outfits, told the very top row she could see them and chose audience members to wave at, making eye contact and smiling brightly. She invited one lucky member of the crowd, whom she declared the winner of a dance competition no one knew was happening, into the photo pit, and asked the camera crew to put the girl's dance moves on screen (they didn't). And when Santa waltzed on stage, he came with an actual bag of presents and threw shiny gold packages into the crowd.

Carey even shared her family: her children, Moroccan and Monroe, who are very musically gifted, performed short numbers while she changed. Monroe and Carey also sang "Jesus Born on This Day" as a duet, and both children reappeared on stage for the grand finale.

She is the embodiment of the holiday spirit
For many of us, the Songbird Supreme's melodic, upbeat voice has been the soundtrack to many carefree holiday parties and sleepy Christmas mornings. And last night's concert-goers, who danced to festive tunes in Santa costumes and fuzzy sweaters, got a direct transfusion of the Christmas magic that seems to sparkle from the singer like freshly fallen snow.

"I definitely wanted to bring hope to everybody out there," Carey said before performing "Hero". During her brief interludes, she spoke of spreading joy and hope and the uplifting energy of the Christmas spirit. She even shared some holiday family photos before ending the show with "All I Want for Christmas Is You", while a magical sprinkle of fake snow drifted down from the rafters.


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