Written by Caballero Oscuro
After nearly vanishing into obscurity after a series of misadventures a few years ago, Mariah Carey returned to prominence with the surprising success of her latest album and tour, The Adventures of Mimi. More than just a concert video, the new tour DVD showcases an artist at the height of her powers and chronicles the amazing rapport she builds with her audience. Filmed in front of a capacity arena crowd in Anaheim, CA, the DVD captures Carey’s greatest hits, both old and new, and features a few familiar old friends as well.
Unlike most modern-day pop stars, Carey has always been more focused on her vocal performance than her choreography. She’s a songbird by nature, not a dancer, so it’s no surprise to find her returning to her traditional stage presence of basically just strolling back and forth with nary a thought of incorporating the latest dance moves. She has a crew of backup dancers at times to add some physical sizzle, but she always keeps the focus fully on her vocals, not stage antics.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to look at, in fact her outfits in this production are likely the most revealing gear she’s ever sported in concert. Starting with a black bra top and briefs barely covered by a see-through floor-length flowing negligee of some sort, she’s game to show off her body throughout the production to the delight of her screaming fans. All the skin seems a bit incongruous during a couple of somber ballads, but I’m not complaining.
Dipping way back into her catalog to her cover of the Jackson Five’s “I’ll Be There”, Carey brings original partner Trey Lorenz back to center stage to assist. He’s stayed on the Carey payroll as her touring backup singer throughout the years, so his duet is no surprise, but it’s still gratifying to see the original pairing together again. The other notable trip down memory lane finds Boyz II Men joining Carey for their old smash, “One Sweet Day”. Aside from those two exceptions, the rest of the concert is all Mariah, and she never fails to impress with her strong vocals.
The set list is a strong mix of old and new, focusing on the modern, dancefloor-leaning sounds of her latest CD but leaving plenty of room for her earlier ballads. The new material gets an enthusiastic reception from the crowd, but nothing like the religious fervor they display when she belts out old chestnuts like “Hero.” The crowd reaction drives home just how much her music has touched her audiences through the years, making her return to greatness all the more heartwarming. She’s fully aware of her relationship with the crowd and does an admirable job of reaching out to them, taking time for brief stage banter and insight into her songs to add a personalized touch rather than staying on a strictly regimented schedule. This in turn makes the concert feel truly live rather than just another interchangeable stop on a pre-programmed tour.
The concert was filmed in HD and recorded in digital surround sound, although it’s currently available only in regular DVD format. The full concert appears on disc one, along with a brief behind-the-scenes feature. Disc two features an expanded tour documentary, as well as a karaoke feature for a few of the songs and a worthless mini-movie directed by Spike Lee called “Lovers & Haters” where haters openly disparage Mariah while she rises above it. Skip the extras and just enjoy the nearly 90-minute concert in all of its glory.