Following a 13-year absence, Mariah Carey returned to London back in 2016 bringing her live show to UK Lambs that had been starved of the diva for far too long. Since then she’s been over every year, making the UK a priority on her tours and including us in her fantastic spectacular All I Want For Christmas Is You Tour. Currently trekking the globe with her Caution World Tour, Carey was back in the UK last night for the first of three nights at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall.
Arriving on stage to the feisty anthem A No No, her current single from Caution, Carey sounded and looked incredible. Emerging from the back of the stage, Carey made her way to the front as she gave a lover the ultimate kiss-off with the song’s biting lyrics. The audience knew all the words and it was the perfect beginning to a night that was full of hits, nostalgia and jaw-dropping vocals. The last time Carey was in the UK for a non-Christmas tour was in 2016 with her Sweet Sweet Fantasy Tour and rather than rehashing the set list from that one, Carey switched things up last night.
The set list really was aimed at the fans with plenty of crowd-pleasing moments but also some gems from Carey’s catalogue that she rarely, and in some instances never, performs. After the 90s classic Dreamlover ended, and those high notes had us all cheering, Carey mashed up You Don’t Know What To Do from 2014’s Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse with her 1991 hit Emotions. It worked well and it kept the audience on their feet. Next up was 1994’s Anytime You Need a Friend, which transformed from the ballad version to the C+C Club Mix by the end.
That was the first of many original/remix mash-ups of the night and it felt like a real service to the fans. The Morales Club Mix of Can’t Take That Away From Me (Mariah’s Theme) was a nice surprise in the set list and for Fantasy Carey cycles through the original version, the ODB Remix and the Def Club Mix over the span of her performance. The night’s biggest surprise was a rendition of Endless Love with Trey Lorenz. Carey told the audience that the one and only time she’d performed at the Royal Albert Hall before was singing that sing with the late, great Luthor Vandross. With that performance she proved her critics wrong as she hit all the notes and showcased impressive power with her delivery.
Elsewhere in the set Dem Babies (or Dem Kids as they are now) joined Carey on stage for Always Be My Baby, which featured parts of the Mr Dupri Mix, she song a trio of selections from Caution – the title track, GTFO and Stay Long Love You – and wowed with flawless versions of My All and Love Takes Time, another early gem we don’t hear often on this side of the pond. One of the night’s biggest reactions was reserved for the #JusticeForGlitter medley, which included Never Too Far, Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, Loverboy and Didn’t Mean to Turn You On. Carey included Glitter in her set for this tour after fans got the album to number one on the iTunes chart in 2018.
For Heartbreaker Carey fought on-stage with her alter-ego Bianca much to the delight of the fans, and We Belong Together sounded as powerful and strong as it ever has. The encore for the night was Hero, of course, and Without You. Both showed that Carey’s voice is still very much there and she dropped a few jaws when she flawlessly delivered those iconic belt notes in both songs.
One of the things to note about last night is just how much fun Carey seemed to be having on stage. She’s been criticised in the past for being a little static or timid on the stage, and that certainly wasn’t the case last night. Carey interacted with fans, signed autographs, cracked jokes and had a huge smile across her face all night. It was wonderful to see.
Last night was the fifth time I’ve seen Carey perform live and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s the best I’ve ever seen. Her stage presence was brilliant, the outfits were stunning and those live (yes LIVE) vocals proved she’s still a huge force to be reckoned with. Carey didn’t miss a beat all night and her set list was different to the greatest hits style set she’s been performing in more recent times. If you’re going to see her tonight or tomorrow, you’re in for an absolute treat as Carey is at the top of her game once again.
Set list: 1. A No No 2. Dreamlover 3. You Don’t Know What To Do/Emotions 4. Anytime You Need a Friend (incorporating the C+C Club Mix) 5. Can’t Take That Away From Me (Mariah’s Theme) (Morales Club Mix) 6. Fantasy (incorporating ODB Remix and Def Club Mix) 7. Endless Love (with Trey Lorenz) 8. Always Be My Baby (incorporating Mr Dupri Mix) 9. Caution 10. GTFO 11. Stay Long Love You 12. My All 13. Love Takes Time 14. Never Too Far 15. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life 16. Loverboy 17. Didn’t Mean to Turn You On 18. Heartbreaker (incorporating Desert Storm Remix) 19. Touch My Body 20. We Belong Together (incorporating Jadakiss and Styles P Remix) 21. Hero 22. Without You Performance date: 25th May 2019