Mariah Carey brings holiday cheer to Little Caesars Arena

Saturday 2 December 2023

Mariah Carey brings holiday cheer to Little Caesars Arena |
At Mariah Carey's concert at Little Caesars Arena on Friday night it was a happy holiday for one and all, except for maybe the sound guy, who caught an earful from the Queen of Christmas after the very first song.

"There is an issue with the sound on my left side," Carey said into her microphone, in front of 13,000 fans, after an opening rendition of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". "This feels like feedback, and we don't want to get feedback like that. We like good feedback. How y'all feeling!"

Give a diva a live microphone and stand back. And Friday was a stand back kind of evening, as Carey brought a loose, off the cuff feeling to her 93-minute performance of Christmas standards, catalog hits and of course "All I Want for Christmas is You", her 1994 holiday smash that has come to be a perennial Christmas classic and perhaps Carey's definitive song.

That's nothing to scoff at in a catalog as deep as the hitmaker's, where it's one of her 19 No. 1 hits, the most ever for a solo artist and second only to the Beatles, who have one more chart topper than her. But "All I Want for Christmas is You" has become so synonymous with Carey, and she's become so intertwined with the holiday season, that it's worth reminding people from time to time she's one of Earth's most successful singers, full stop, even without the Christmastime hit.

She's also delightfully funny, and her between song stage banter Friday was just as entertaining as her roughly 25-song performance. She said she was looking forward to seeing snow in Detroit but "it rained instead, and that's OK," she told the crowd, in a tone that made it sound like it wasn't OK.

She occasionally spoke in a faux-British accent, interacting with fans in the front row, promising one of them a signature that didn't appear to ever materialize. And when one of those fans held up something that caught her eye, she half-played along in the moment. "I'm not sure what you're showing me," she said, "but it looks like something fun." (She also sang an impromptu snippet of "Miss You Most (at Christmas Time)" for a couple in the audience who held up a sign saying they shared their first kiss to the 1994 song.)

Just the best, really. She was also visited occasionally by an on-stage "glam squad", who came and touched up her hair and makeup between songs, and Carey's four-piece band added to the unscripted feel of the evening, at one point rolling into the instrumental for "The Roof", Carey's 1997 track, which she laughed off and said, "I don't think we're doing that one tonight." (They kept playing it anyway, and Carey ended up singing a few bars of the sultry love song.)

But Friday night's show wasn't about "The Roof", it was about conjuring up the holiday spirit, and it was a family-friendly evening that saw children, parents and grandparents in attendance in festive sweaters, Christmas attire and Santa hats. Carey was more than happy to be the centerpiece of the yuletide celebration, mixing her own holiday hits ("Oh Santa", "Jesus Born on This Day", the latter performed with her daughter Monroe) with seasonal favorites ("Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", "Joy to the World") and even spinning her own "My All" into a Christmas-themed gospel number. She sounded great throughout the night, her vocals full and clean, even if her vaunted "whistle register" has lost its ability to shatter glass.

Carey shined in a series of sparkling gowns, and came out late in the show for a run of non-Christmas hits, including snippets of "Honey" (which was mixed with "Heartbreaker" in a live mash-up of sorts), "Fly Like a Bird", "Make it Happen", "Always Be My Baby", "Emotions", "It's a Wrap" and "A No No". "We Belong Together" and "Hero" were given full run-throughs, both retaining their thunderous power, and representing different peak points of Carey's artistry.

And then there was the show closer that everyone knew was coming, "All I Want for Christmas is You", which at this point is easy to take for granted. You've heard it in every grocery store, dentist's office and holiday party you've been to over the last 30 years, but Friday was an important reminder of its world class engineering, its inexhaustible energy and its delivery of sheer joy. It has earned its place in the canon, just as Carey has. And as she sang it Friday, surrounded by dancers, as snowflake confetti rained down from the arena ceiling, it felt how the Christmas season is supposed to feel: merry, festive and bright. Even if it was raining outside.

(The Detroit News)

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