It was a Madison Square Garden fantasy come true for Filipinos who filled the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on October 26, 2018 as one of world music’s modern-age legends belted and whistled her tunes away live for the third time in Manila — singer, songwriter, and producer, Mariah Carey.
The “Songstress Supreme” treated her fans to a repertoire of her Billboard number one hits (she has a record-holding 18) and new music from her latest album Caution, featuring “With You.”
The said track released this October has a ‘90s R&B vibe with melismas and vocal signatures that has “Mimi” written all over it.
Against all odds and traffic jams
It was in 1995 when she performed on a Friday night live at the Madison Square Garden in New York and disproved all manner of rumor that her singing was only studio-made. Against the critics’ words however, Mariah’s display of her vocal range from husky alto to nearly-beyond-human whistle notes during her concert was nothing short of extraordinary.
Twenty three years later, amidst various challenges including Manila’s traffic scene, the singer proved once again that she still has it to give her audience the right chills and feels and goosebumps that only an artist of her caliber and experience can.
Mariah opened the Manila leg of her Asian tour with a medley of Butterfly (reprise), Honey, Shake It Off and, aptly, Make It Happen.
The diva also warmly greeted the audience and spoke salamat (Thank you) and mahal kita (I love you) with a preface that her pronunciation may not be on-point, but was returned nonetheless with a roaring cheer of appreciation and approval by the crowd.
With an outfit change, Mariah rolled out the second set of her songs as the crowd partied to the O.D.B remix of Fantasy — one of the 90s most successful and memorable pop-hip hop crossovers in American music.
Following shortly was the earworm that is Always Be My Baby. And with a “doo-doot-dum,” the Filipino crowd was sent happily singing along.
As is expected of a Mariah Carey tune or performance however, it can only and really go higher.
Emotions, both the song and the actual state of consciousness, riled up the audience when Mariah began to sing “I feel good, I feel nice.” Understandably, the crowd lost it upon hearing the ascending whistle notes at the end, bringing the song’s melody and lyrics to justice.
Mariah then introduced the next song in her setlist, “It’s called Vision of Love,” she said.
If only she knew how it has been one of the favorite pieces of Filipino wishfuls in singing contests from barangay (village) to national competitions — a sheer testament to how much of a household name she has become in a country thousands of miles away from her birthplace in Long Island.
A well-loved return
It was 2003 when Mariah first performed in the Philippines and met the local lambily community, followed by her visit in 2014 as part of her Elusive Chanteuse tour.
This time around in a concert presented by Wilbros Live, Mariah had two special treats for her Filipino fan-base.
One was when she sang the lambily’s most voted song for her to sing, Can’t Let Go, originally released in 1991.
Another was when she invited one of the audience members to join her on stage. It was a person who caught her eye earlier in the show: a guy wearing a shirt with a “Caution” print.
“Mark” as he introduced himself, but has been called on Twitter as “the lucky guy,” got to sit beside Mariah as she sang “Touch My Body.” The lucky guy even got to hug the singer before he returned to his seat.
After capping off the final set of songs for the night with “We Belong Together,” Mariah thanked everyone from the fans to the singers to the crew.
The lights dimmed and the diva, her backup singers, and the band headed off to the backstage. It seemed like the eventful musical night was over after almost two hours of virtually non-stop singing from the famed performer.
At this point, a sea of lights from mobile phones gradually took over the dark scene while the crowd in unison chanted, “Mariah, Mariah” for a full minute or two. Perhaps it was shorter, but it is in those moments of human expression and spirit that time seems to go slower.
A light beamed towards the stage and Trey Lorenz reappeared. He then signaled the crowd to chant louder. The other lights turned on, and a familiar melody began to play.
The diva returned to a thundering applause, and just as the crowd’s cheers quieted, performed “Hero.”