Mariah Carey ‘smashes every goddamn note’ at a glass-breaking gig in Dublin

Review: The 3Arena concert on Wednesday was the pop diva’s first Irish headlining show

Mariah Carey: Charming and playful, and just the right amount of shady. Photograph: John Shearer/Getty Images

Mariah Carey: Charming and playful, and just the right amount of shady. Photograph: John Shearer/Getty Images

 

There are very few artists left in the world who, at their peak, were completely unavoidable. Every song was a number one, every romance became a headline and every new hairstyle marked a rush of hair salon appointments across the world.

While the Spice Girls are considered such an act, and will be playing Croke Park this Friday, Mariah Carey is one of the last true solo superstars, and she finally graced us with her presence for her first Irish headlining show in Dublin’s 3Arena.

Kicking off the European leg of her Caution World Tour tonight, just one hour and 19 minutes later than scheduled, she takes us through three decades of hits, from soul-searching ballads to chart-topping songs that bring in pop hooks, hip-hop beats, R&B melodies that show off every side of the singer that we’ve come to know over the years.

Opening with A No No, a smooth R&B song from 2018’s Caution that’s peppered with now-typical Carey witticisms (“Parlez-vous français? I said non. Lemme translate it, I said no”), she then eases into Dreamlover, a luxe love song for the ages that sends the crowd into a premature frenzy.

As she rolls from the double pairing of Fantasy and Always Be My Baby, taken from 1995’s Daydream, into 2018’s offerings Caution and GTFO, we’re reminded of Carey’s adaptability to the changing landscape of the charts. The combination of 1999’s Heartbreaker, 2008’s Touch My Body and 2005’s We Belong Together is a masterful display of staying chart-relevant while remaining totally Mariah.  

Where once she set the trends or broke records, she now sits in that comfortable space of latching on to nostalgia while creating new dynamics in pop-soul songs with hip-hop and R&B producers and songwriters like Dev Hynes, Nineteen85 and Timbaland. Going from a soft purr to completely belting it out, she still has the full range but she chooses when and how she delivers her infamous whistle register, throwing in impressive vocal runs and adlibs until she’s ready to roll.

She leaves the audience hungry for those glass-breaking notes so when she hits them, it’s like Serena Williams hitting that winning serve in Wimbledon. We knew it was coming but we didn’t expect it to be so powerful.

Aged either 49 or 50 – Carey celebrates anniversaries, not birthdays and she doesn’t disclose her actual date of birth – the New Yorker plays the role of the diva perfectly. Dripping in jewels – even her water bottle is bejewelled – she dramatically calls her “glamily” onstage for touch-ups, and is almost always holding a pose.

She’s charming, playful and warm but she’s also the right amount of shady. She’s raging that her second outfit, the LED pink and black full-length dress, doesn’t fully light up.

Throughout the night, she delivers practically patented Mariah-isms like “what a festive crowd!” and “moments, darling! Moments!” and her twins Roc and Roe – known fondly as Dem Babies – join her onstage in Irish football jerseys to chat about tomorrow’s breakfast in bed.

Always in on the joke of what people say about her, she dedicates a portion to the night to Glitter, the 2001 album that accompanied the film of the same name that is known as a big aul commercial flop. Many people marked that year as the end of her career but last year, at the campaigning of her dedicated fans – her lambs – the soundtrack reached number one in the iTunes chart.

The success of the Justice for Glitter campaign shows the devotion of her lambily (that’s right) and the upbeat medley of Never Too Far, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, Loverboy and Didn’t Mean to Turn You On feels like a thank-you for their relentless support. Justice, and more, was finally served.

The last and only other time that Carey performed in Ireland was in 1999 for Dublin’s glamorously shambolic attempt at hosting MTV’s Europe Music Awards so this evening’s show was a long, long time coming.

To thank her Irish lambily for their patience, she she not only smashes every goddamn note in Hero but she generously throws in a bonus performance of Without You. Carey came and boy did she conquer.

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