With Christmas time right around the corner, it was fitting that Mariah Carey had announced that she would be bringing her critically-acclaimed All I Want For Christmas is You tour to the UK for the first time. An annual tradition that began at New York’s Beacon Theatre in 2014, the festive celebration has never ventured outside of New York until this year. Despite a rocky start, which saw Carey forced to cancel a slew of dates due to illness, she has been on form since she kicked off the shows in New York earlier this month.
Rather bafflingly I’ve seen some reviews of her Manchester date, which took place at the weekend, where critics have been a bit confused about the almost entirely Christmas setlist. All I’ll say to that is that the clue is in the title of the show people! For those that did understand what they were going to see, Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You tour was a spectacular festive treat that I hope will go on to be an annual tradition on this side of the pond too.
With a stage dressed beautifully for Christmas with a huge tree in the middle and presents on either side of the stage, Carey opened the show with Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Gloria (In Excelsis Deo). Dressed in a gorgeous gold gown Carey immediately wowed with her live (yes she was live for all those who would like to claim she mimed) vocals and the festivities got off to a strong start.
The set list for the night was a combination of songs from her record-breaking, best-selling 1994 album Merry Christmas and its 2010 follow-up Merry Christmas II You. Backed by a troupe of dancers, her incredible backing singers, a band and plenty of Christmas characters such as reindeer and Santa, Carey really embraced the most wonderful time of the year and the audience at London’s O2 Arena lapped up every single second.
Introducing her latest single The Star, the lead single from the film of the same name, Carey explained how the song had just received a Golden Globe nomination that day. She brought out her children Moroccan and Monroe, along with the son of her backing singer MaryAnn Tatum, to perform backing vocals during the performance. It was a beautiful moment and one that made the audience feel a little teary.
All of the festive songs you’d want to hear were present. 2010 original track Oh Santa got people out of their chairs and dancing, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) showed that Carey’s voice is still strong, and Christmas Time is in the Air Again slowed things down for a dreamy moment of pure Christmas joy. Carey left the stage on a few occasions to change costume and the audience was entertained by one of her young singers who performed popular Christmas hits.
Throughout the performance Carey was joined by a gospel choir, who elevated the already festive experience to a whole new level. Joy to the World was positively rousing and Silent Night was a beautiful moment that really allowed Carey’s vocals to shine. The highlight of the night came on O Holy Night, a song that appears on both of Carey’s Christmas albums. She sang the first part accompanied solely by piano putting to bed the incorrect whispers from critics that she can’t sing like she used to. The performance was remarkable and Carey’s version of the song is easily the definitive one.
Before the set came to a close, Carey threw in some of her best-known hits. She performed a trio of her biggest singles – Emotions, We Belong Together and Hero – all of which went down a storm. For the encore Carey returned to the stage dressed as a drummer boy to perform All I Want For Christmas is You. 23 years on from its original release, the song is as popular as ever (it’s currently Top 5 in the UK) and for many it was a dream come true to see Carey performing it.
As she left the stage, snow and confetti rained down on the audience and the Christmas spirit was well and truly alive. Audience members continued singing Carey’s songs as they left the arena and a good time was definitely had by all. It felt special to be among the first people outside of New York to see the All I Want For Christmas is You tour and judging by the sold-out audiences she’s been playing to here and in Paris, Carey could easily come back every December. The All I Want For Christmas is You tour is everything I’d hoped it would be and then some.
Set list: 1. Hark the Herald Angels Sing/Gloria (In Excelsis Deo) 2. Charlie Brown Christmas 3. Oh Santa! 4. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) 5. The Star 6. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer/Jingle Bells (intrlude) 7. Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child (Trey Lorenz) 8. Silent Night 9. Joy to the World 10. When Christmas Comes 11. Here Comes Santa Claus 12. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (interlude) 13. Carol of the Bells (interlude) 14. Christmas Time is in the Air Again 15. O Holy Night 16. Emotions 17. We Belong Together 18. Hero 19. All I Want For Christmas is You Performance date: 11th December 2017