Concerts are a curious thing. Ostensibly, the entire purpose is to bask in the live performance. But horrendous traffic, an argument among friends or poor communication can derail the entire experience. In the case of this reporter, all those horrible factors aligned to create one mess of a night.
So when Mariah Carey sang the most recent of her 18 No. 1 hits, “Touch My Body,” and relied on her back-up singers do most of the heavy lifting, I found myself wondering, “We schlepped all the way over here for this?” At the end of the day, she’s still Mariah Carey: a superstar who dominated many a young woman’s playlists. A woman who sang us through heartache with hits like “Hero,” “Always Be My Baby” and “Vision of Love.” A woman who, despite the volatility of the music industry, has remained relevant for 25 years. But when she belted out the high notes of “Emotions” – perhaps one of the hardest pop songs to perform – it was easy to see that her command of her vocal abilities has faltered over the years.
Her presence on stage was also limited.
In the hour-and-a-half show she had four costume changes: one ill-fitting, heavily bedazzled dress after the other – hardly appropriate for the sweltering humidity that pervaded the air in Rishon’s Live Park arena.
At one point she even acknowledged she couldn’t sit while wearing one of her designer frocks and opted to lean against the piano instead.
She wasn’t too happy with us, either. Yes, she said she had always want to perform in Israel, and graciously thanked the 12,000 fans that came to see her Tuesday night.
“This is a thank you to all the real fans who wanted to see me for a long time.
Thank you for coming under such short notice!” She said toward the end of the show.
However, she interrupted the show not once but twice to (with justification) berate members of the audience for smoking.
“Whoever is smoking, please don’t smoke.
Smoke whatever else you want, but tobacco kills my voice!” she pleaded.
For the most part, the crowd grudgingly obliged, but many opted to simply go off to the side and puff away.
For the most part, her main back-up singer, Trey Lorenz, did a lot of the work, even singing Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” while Carey went through one of her costume changes. His smooth voice certainly did justice to the Jackson classic and meshed will with Carey’s vocals when the two sang “I’ll Be There,” but we came for Carey, not Lorenz, after all. And there were a few key moments when she delivered the goods, her soaring voice captivating the audience.
The very moment she began to sing the first notes of “Hero,” for example, the crowd was enthralled, and stayed with her for every word of her mega-hit. And her rendition of “Vision of Love” also didn’t disappoint, with the singer seemingly putting all of her effort into belting out the excruciatingly difficult high notes at the end of that song.
But throughout the whole performance it appeared that Carey, too, was aware of her limitations, seemingly reserving all her energy and strength for those high notes that made her a star, instead of focusing on the quality of the song as a whole. It was as if she had a meter in her head, gauging her vocal reserves.
But ultimately, a mediocre Carey performance is still light-years better than most of the ingénues in the business today are capable of.
To paraphrase her ‘97 hit “My All,” would Israelis give their all for one more night with the superstar? Probably not. But the few moments where a glimmer of old-school, early ‘90s Mariah shone through were certainly a sight to behold.