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In concert: Mariah Carey

Mariah CareyMariah Carey kept it to three costume changes Wednesday at Constitution Hall. (All photos by Mark Gail/TWP)

By Chris Richards

The Mariah Carey songbook is thick with butterflies and rainbows and kisses that taste like honey — not much doom and gloom. So when the pop icon visited DAR Constitution Hall Wednesday, you’d never know she was limping through the darkest hours of her 20-year musical career.

Carey is currently touring in support of last September’s “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” the lowest selling album in her platinum-spangled discography. The disc isn’t horrendous. Its failure merely illustrates how this wretched economy can transform yesterday’s invincible uber-star into today’s latest music-biz casualty. Wednesday’s modest Constitution Hall environs were also a considerable step down from the
much-larger Verizon Center where Carey made her last Washington appearance in 2006. And this gig didn’t even sell out.

(Mimi shakes it off, plus more pictures after the jump.)

Mariah Carey

Cleverly then, the singer kick-started her 90-minute set with “Shake it Off,” a strutting 2005 kiss-off that felt both cocky and carefree. Delivered in the breathy coo that’s become her trademark in recent years, Carey used her voice to quickly establish a casual intimacy with the audience, as if she were whispering the song’s verses in the
crowd’s collective ear.

They replied with shouts, and screams of “I love you Mariah!!!” that not only got the singer’s attention, but a smile and a finger wave, too.

Perhaps she was waving just to flaunt the blinding stones that adorned her fingers. Diamonds covered almost all of Carey's accoutrements: her microphone, her microphone stand,her shoes,even the ear-piece she wore so she could hear her backing band as they chipped away on an elevated platform behind her.

It wasn’t always so easy to hear Carey, however. On her less acrobatic vocal runs, the singer's words got lost amid the haze of the backing tracks, the voices of her back-up singers and the cavernous acoustics that threaten to turn every show at Constitution Hall into sonic miso soup.

This didn’t bode well for the relatively staid selections off “Memoirs,” but somehow, Carey imbued those stiff tunes with a fresh zeal. Album filler “It’s A Wrap” suddenly felt almost as dynamic and spry as “Heartbreaker” or “Honey,” two bona fide hits that preceded it.

Mercifully, Carey went easy on the ballads, slipping into a robe and parking herself in a seat for “My All.” The song pushed the singer through almost every strata of her register and after its big finish, she was carried offstage in the arms of a dancer who appeared
about two-thirds her size. Turns out, he was whisking Carey away for her third and final costume change of the night. (For those keeping count: four gowns in all, each one impossibly sparkly.)

Reversing the one-two punch she delivered at Verizon in 2006, Carey closed the set with the unimpeachable “We Belong Together” and encored with the power ballad “Hero.”

Excited fans rushed the aisles with their camera phones, angling for the closest shot they could get. Carey’s black sequined dress became a disco ball, reflecting hundreds of camera flashes back into the crowd as she hit the song’s sentimental crescendo.

The superstar waved goodnight and feet began shuffling to the exits. “Did you see how close I was?” one aisle-crashing teen asked her friend, positively beaming. Glee that genuine makes the crumbling of the American music industry seem like a truly wonderful thing.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey

By David Malitz  |  January 28, 2010; 7:40 AM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Mariah Carey  
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New fake breasts and a penchant for showing up to public events completely stoned. Her time came and went. Bye bye.

Posted by: tjhall1 | January 28, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

She looks.......well preserved. Kudos to her surgeons, they didn't mess up.

Posted by: EricS2 | January 28, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Kathy Griffin sold out two shows this weekend because she is funny. It has little to do with the economy - it has to do with people are sick of the overinflated diva thing.

Posted by: mcmantis1 | January 28, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Mariah is incredible and will always be - her voice is amazing. The thing I love about her is 1st her voice, 2nd is her songwriting. She's 1 of a few who can sing anywhere - she gave a great intimate concert for her fans, that love her music and craft. Keep doing your thing Mariah - Forever Love!

Posted by: allaboutlove | January 29, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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