|Photos by Marco Torres|
Just what is the draw of divadom? What makes someone want to support gilded hissy fits and glittery passive-aggression brought to a high art? Better yet, how did Mariah Carey reach this level of queenliness in this day and age? Aftermath pondered those things as he walked through a throng of bundled-up and grown-up boys and girls waiting for their valeted cars outside Verizon Wireless Theatre after Carey's near sell-out show there Wednesday night.
True enough, Carey still has the pipes that brought her to the big leagues in 1990. Nowhere once during last night's gig did her gift let her or her fans down. But we still wonder how amazing she would sound on a stark stage with only a band and her voluptuous self freed of the trappings of dancers and half-nude trapeze shows. At this point in the game she shouldn't need anything but the bare minimum to get her message across. Whatever that may be from album to album and press junket to press junket.
By the time an artist is 40, like Carey will be next month, their basic career arc has already been written for better or worse. When Madonna hit 40 in 1998 and had Ray Of Light
on the market, everyone thought "Well, that's who she will be until the day she dies." It's settled at that place in time. She won't deviate far from the home base. Any reinvention will merely be slight and, done solely to shock those who aren't hip anyway. There is a distinct difference between the age of your art and the age of your body.
Carey is still the artist she was in 2000, and that's not such a good thing. The glittered-and-glossed act is now sort of clunky, when female artists her age and even younger are constantly digging into their toolboxes for ways to push things forward. Look at Lady Gaga and Rhianna, for example. Carey hasn't moved from her seat at the glam table since the second Clinton administration.
She can get married and act in movies to bolster a respectable offstage aura, but onstage and on record, she is completely stunted. Does anyone feel like she is the drunken cougar at the party in the too-tight dress putting on slurry airs to woo a non-existent element here in 2010? She's been a googly-eyed glamour girl living a pool of champagne (her own brand, probably) making the same product now for at least the last six album cycles.
The only that has changed has been the length of her dresses and the expert hired-gun R&B production teams behind each track. You aren't making statements anymore; you are making shiny round plastic excuses to squirrel $175 away from someone.
Carey went out on time directly at 8:30 p.m. without a diva delay, which was surprising and slightly aggravating since we were running late. We made it in the hall halfway through her first song, so it's not like we missed anything but screaming and pre-curtain hollering. A mash of "Butterfly" and "Daydream" began the night, with the singer doing her signature mike in one hand and gospel hand reaching up to the roof pose. That's the one you see in wax museums the world over.