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January 28, 2010

Concert review: Mariah Carey at DAR Constitution Hall

mariah carey

Concert reviewer John-John Williams IV saw MiMi's show last night at DAR Constitution Hall. Here are his thoughts on her performance:

The legendary songstress Mariah Carey gave a somewhat spirited performance last night during her 90-minute show at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington.

At times, Carey was magical. She showed off the  incredible vocal range that has made her arguably one of the top female vocalists of her time.

She also displayed a noticeably heftier figure that she squeezed for dear life into unflattering outfits. (At one point, when she descended from the rafters on a swing wearing a sparkly champagne-colored gown, she looked sort of like a sausage wrapped in ruffles and rhinestones.)

Although Carey emerged at about 8:30 p.m. and ended the show about 10 p.m., her actual performance time was much shorter.

If you count the outfit changes, the stage breaks she took to sip champagne and the ultra tacky onstage makeup touch-up, Carey only performed for about an hour ...

"I know. I know. It's diva behavior," she said to the audience.

She wasn't joking.

It was truly unfortunate for fans who paid as much as $149 a ticket to watch Carey rhythmlessly wobble from one side of the stage to the other.

Carey only sang about a dozen songs. (It seemed like more Michael Jackson songs were played during her concert than her own material.) Absent were "Vision of Love," "Emotions" and "One Sweet Day."

A dozen or so songs for an artist starting out is understandable. But for Carey, who has 20 years of solid material -- "We Belong Together" was recently named song of the decade by Billboard -- it is completely unforgivable. Shame on you, Mariah. Shame.

Carey was golden when she performed hits like "Shake It Off" and "It's Like That" from 2005's "Emancipation of Mimi" and "Touch My Body" from 2008’s E=MC². They were all crowd pleasers.

On more than one occasion, Carey attempted to show off her whistle register (when she hits those really, really high notes). When Carey began a song with the whistle register, like she did with "It’s A Wrap," she was golden.Sadly, Carey had a tendency to lose that note when the music blared in the background -- especially at the end of a song.

Toss in a couple more songs -- the crowd pleaser "Always Be My Baby," "My All" from "Honey" and "Obsessed," as well as some background dancers and that was it, folks.

Overall, it was a disappointment. We all know that Carey can sing the phonebook. We know that she has an arsenal of hits. And we all know that she is capable of bringing down the house. I just wish that she would have put all of these weapons together for a concert that didn’t cut corners.

(Getty Images photo by John Shearer)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:26 AM | | Comments (23)
Categories: Concert reviews


"We all know that Carey can sing the phonebook. We know that she has an arsenal of hits. And we all know that she is capable of bringing down the house."

Only 2/3 of that is true. She has a incomparable catalogue of hit songs, and she is a wonderful studio vocalist but in the 20 years of her career she has not quite proved herself to be an engaging live performer or a viable touring act.

The song titles are "Always Be My Baby" and "My All" - you added a few too many words.

Just bask in Mariah's glo, dahling

Editor's note: Thanks for the heads up. Fixed!

She sang 17 songs!! Were you really at the concert?? That's enough for one night in my opinion.

She's the best live singer that has ever graced this planet. PERIOD!

Mariah is the Golden child of this age- everything she does is alright by me. PERIOD

@ Tom,

I sure was at that concert. Maybe our definition of a song is different. I think a song should have a beginning, middle, and an end. If Mariah sings a verse or two of a song--that doesn't count. If her music is playing and her background dancers are the only ones on stage because she's changing in the back-- that doesn't count.

Lets be real. I don't know how many concerts you've been to, but an artist with that type of arsenal would have done much more. Just ask Beyonce. When I saw her in concert in Baltimore last year, she left it all on the stage. She danced! She managed to have a ton more costume changes because she actually worked up a sweat. Why on Earth did Mariah need to get her makeup redone? She barely moved enough to cause an increase in her heart rate. I suspect the only reason she was sweating was from all that champagne!

Don't get me wrong, I think Mariah Carey has one of the best voices ever. But I was expecting more. How can you explain leaving off "Vision of Love," "Emotions" and "One Sweet Day"? Are you even old enough to remember those songs? Or did you start listening to Mariah after the "Emancipation of Mimi" dropped? As a person who remembers Mariah from the beginning, that concert left out a few major songs. She cut corners...

Mariah was dazzling, to say the least. I came so close to meeting her when she visited the Newseum December 9, but I missed her by 10 seconds and she walked into the building. (I did meet her husband though). All my life I've waited for the day I would see her in concert, and this was by no means a disappointment.

The most entertaining part of the show was the transposition of some original notes, especially with "It's a Wrap" and "Shake It Off." She had everyone dancing and singing--people from 4 years old to 64 years old were enjoying themselves. I loved that she talked with the audience; yes, that may not have counted as actual "performance" time, but many other performers sing their lungs out and don't really connect with the room. Mariah has such raw talent that there is no comparison.

It would have been tragic if Mariah had sang only 12 songs during the concert, but she actually sang 17 songs. That might still be cutting it short for someone with a catalogue like Mariah, but 17 is much better than 12 songs.

01. Butterfly Intro/Daydream Interlude
02. Shake It Off
03. Touch My Body
04. Fly Like a Bird
05. Make It Happen
06. Angels Cry
07. Subtle Invitation
08. It's Like That
09. The Impossible
10. Love Hangover/Heartbreaker
11. Honey
12. It's A Wrap
13. My All
14. Always Be My Baby
15. Obsessed
16. We Belong Together
17. Hero

It's obvious you're not a fan from the first read. Your review is extremely biased and I disagree. I did not see one disappointed person at the venue Wednesday night. She sang amazingly and my friends and I stood there cheering her on with our mouths agape at the stuff she could do with her voice.

Seventeen songs is amazing for someone who sings like Mariah. No she's not conducting a workout onstage like Beyonce or Lady Gaga, but people come to a Mariah concert expecting someone to blow the hell out of each song, not dance and lip-sync for their life. Also, yeah it is sad Mariah didn't sing some of her classic hits, but this is not a greatest hits tour, it's called "Angels Advocate" in support of her LATEST album.

I had a blast and I'm still in awe. If you wanted your review to hold any clout, you should start drinking a smaller glass of hater-ade.

JJW's music reviews are my favorite thing on Midnight Sun. I love when the whiny fans come out strong.

@ Matt and Andrew-- I'm not supposed to be a "fan." I'm suppose to approach the performance from the standpoint of an observer. I'll leave all the hero worshiping to others.

I really can't think of the last artist who had a greatest hits tour. They usually are on tour to promote an album. But most artists do perform some of the signature hits that made them famous.

I'm sorry that you are probably too young to remember "Vision Of Love," which made a name for Mariah, or "One Sweet Day," which actually set records for the amount of time it spent at No. 1. I guess that is why I was the right choice to go to the concert. (I picked up on such a glaring omission.) I didn't drink the Kool-Aid. I'm not just going to let certain things slide because I'm simply in awe of someone. I'm not star struck.

And I really suspect that Mariah was using pre-recorded vocals in spots. If you paid attention, her voice kind of changed throughout the concert. I did factor in wear and tear, but it was more than that. Did she live sing? Absolutely. But I don't think she did it for the entire concert.

And Andrew-- posting a set list is great--but you proved my point. At least two of the songs either were not sung from beginning to end or in the case of "Make It Happen" was not sung at all. Remember, that was only an instrumental-- her dancers did all those tired solos at that point. Please people. If you are truly a fan of someone's work, you have to take an honest look at what they put in front of you at that moment-- not their past laurels.

I wasn't reviewing this concert from the standpoint of Mariah Carey saved my life, or Mariah Carey's voice cured my terminal illness. Save that stuff for D. Phil and Oprah. I evaluated the performance that night. And it wasn't her best.

And FYI, Lady Gaga and Beyonce did do a fair share of live singing. (I reviewed both of them last year.) They also did a heck of a lot of performing, and connecting with the audience. They both gave much better performances.

I think it's telling that the last time Mariah played in the area, it was a few years ago at the much larger Verizon Center. And I heard from the Washington Post's Click Track blog that this show at DAR didn't even sell out. Ouch.

I am sorry but I really feel this is a biased review, either that or you just had a really bad day ect, whatever. I paid almost 500 dollars for my ticket and it was for VIP, even though my friend I took won two front row seats, we still both took friends. I can tell you it was worth every penny, due to the fact that I got a personalized autograph that was not expected after the show! How much did you pay probably not a dime cause your press!! Anyway, it just seems there was something bugging you before the show even started, maybe you don't like Mariah for whatever reason, and thats cool cause everyone has fans and haters, and besides at this stage in the game Mariah does not care if she only has 3 fans in the entire world let alone win over some press reviewer! You commented on her looks, singing, and how she acted, if you ask me your just another "tommy" if you will; well can I tell you if you want old Mariah, GO AND LISTEN TO HER OLD CD's!!! Sorry you waisted your time at the show, but everybody there knew beforehand what show they were going to you obviously walked into a show you though was someone else and thats one thing Mariah does not do, put on a show JUST to please everyone, shes real and does what she wants and thats an admirable quality in a "robot" industry!!

JJW IV, whatever you do, please do not review a Chris Sligh concert. I don't think the BSun servers could handle it. haha.

Who is Chris Sligh?

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT...$500 for a VIP Mariah ticket?!?!

That will be a $250 fine, and you are required to serve 100 hours of community service.

I love this blog.

hahah yeah ill do just about anything just to see her close up and it was totally worth everything, id do it again too!!!

1.)For your information, Mariah Carey is gaining weight in preparation for a baby. She said so in an interview about 4 months ago that she plans to have a baby, and her tour correspondents have said she plans to get pregnant after her tour. Also, a sausage? Really? What would you call the average American woman then? A school bus?]
2.) She sang 17 songs, not 12. Can anyone answer me this: How does 17 = 12?

Mariah is a singer not a performer as I had said. I'd say Beyonce and Lady Gaga do their fair share of lip syncing, probably even more so than actual singing, but they are PERFORMERS. I can see why anyone who thought Mariah would be doing flips from the rafters would be disappointed. Mariah has never been known to give "amazing and distracting" performances, she just sings and that's what she's always been known for and that's exactly what she did at DAR. Sorry.


My wife and I went to her concert in Chicago. The show time on the ticket is 7pm. We got there at 6:30pm. At 7:15pm, there were some unknown rap singers sang for 15 minutes. Then they turn on the light again.

Mariah Carey DID NOT SHOW UP UNITL 8:45pm - She is LATE FOR 1 Hour 45 mins. And then she finished the show by 9:55pm.

We hate here because:
1. We waited for 2 Hours 15 mins for a show just over an hour. She is very UNRESPECTFUL to her audidence

2. The show is VERY BAD. Bass is too loud that you don't hear what she sing

3. Dancers were bad, very poor performance

Overall, we felt wasing $400 and a whole night just to wait for an highly unprofessional, unrespectful singer that did a bad show.

Do yourself a favor, DO NOT GO TO HER SHOW.

I 110% agree with your review. I went to see Mariah last night in Dallas and I could not believe how short the concert was. I just thought she cut us short because she said she had gotten no sl eep the night before or during the day. My expectations from her were really high, I mean it's Mariah for God sakes she is one of the biggest stars ever. Anyways I really wish I wouldn't have paid $100 for the ticket.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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