In December 2017 Mariah Carey brought her All I Want For Christmas Is You Tour to the UK for the first time. In fact, it marked the debut of the show overseas after previously only being performed at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The jaunt was a successful one and it wasn’t surprising when Carey announced that she was doing it all over again this year. Ahead of the shows there were plenty of false reports about venues having ‘thousands’ of tickets available but as I took my seat in The O2 Arena last night, that clearly wasn’t the case at all. The Queen of Christmas, Carey promised a spectacular show and that’s exactly what she delivered.
Having seen the show last year, I wondered how different it was going to be and the answer is not that much. Save for a couple of shifts in the set list, the inclusion of new song The Distance, from Carey’s latest album Caution, rather than her classic Emotions and new costumes, the All I Want For Christmas Is You Tour was very similar to last year’s tour. Carey arrived on stage 20 minutes late (of course dahling…) but as soon as a ballet dancer appeared on stage, the audience was mesmerised. Carey opened with Hark the Herald Angels Sing / Gloria (In Excelsis Deo) where she wore a white dress and angel wings while performing in front of an epic Christmas tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped presents.
The set list was once again comprised mostly of songs from 1994’s Merry Christmas and 2010’s Merry Christmas II You. There was a nice balance of Carey’s originals and classic Christmas standards so even those audience members who may not have both albums could still sing and dance along. Oh Santa! Got the audience on their feet with its punchy beat and Carey’s infectious performance while Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), which Carey called a ‘fan favourite’ was the first of many sing-a-long moments.
Carey’s children Moroccan and Monroe were present along with Jaden, the son of backing singer Mary Ann Tatum, and they joined in the festivities throughout the night. Roc and Roe came out to tell the audience they wanted an iPad for Christmas, which Carey asked the crowd to cheer for or against. They joined forces with Jaden to provide backing vocals on The Star, Carey’s Golden Globe nominated song from the film of the same name. Jaden also performed a medley of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
Throughout the set Carey was joined by various characters including Santa for Here Comes Santa Claus, reindeers, a snowman, backing dancers and a gospel choir. Her backing singer Trey Lorenz, who sang with Carey on her cover of The Jackson Five song I’ll Be There, wowed with a powerful performance of Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child.
Highlights of the night included a very moving performance of O Holy Night, the feel-good When Christmas Comes and the rousing Joy to the World. Towards the end of the set Carey performed a trio of her hits including The Distance, We Belong Together and of course Hero. For the latter the audience got their phones out, put on the lights and swayed along lighting up The O2 Arena in the process.
For her final song of the night, Carey performed All I Want For Christmas Is You. The song has a resurgence in the charts every year and it’s without a doubt one of the reasons why many of the audience members were in attendance last night. With Carey dressed as a toy soldier surrounded by festive characters, the song was the perfect way to end the night. The minute the opening bars were played, the audience went absolutely wild.
There’s been much reported over the years about Carey’s voice and whether or not she still ‘has it’. Well I’m pleased to say that she most certainly does. There were some changes to keys occasionally but for the most part Carey performed the songs as they were recorded. She ad-libbed throughout and once she unleashed that powerful iconic belt, the audience were tripping over themselves to applaud her. As for the whistle notes… wow. The strength, power and tone of her voice was magnificent and dare I say she sounded even better than she did last year.
Carey put on one hell of a Christmas party last night and I left The O2 Arena feeling warm, fuzzy and ready for Christmas. The diva was on top form and she was very warm towards the audience, interacting and joking throughout the night. Her voice sounded incredible and she proved once again that no one does Christmas like she does. Whether or not the show will be back next year remains to be seen as Carey has announced plans for a Caution World Tour. She teased last night that the tour would be coming to the UK in 2019 so we’ll have to wait and see when that’ll be.
Set list: 1. Hark the Herald Angels Sing / Gloria (In Excelsis Deo) 2. Charlie Brown Christmas 3. Oh Santa! 4. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) 5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (medley by Jaden) 6. Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child (Trey Lorenz) 7. Silent Night 8. Joy to the World 9. When Christmas Comes 10. The Star 11. Here Comes Santa Claus 12. Piano interlude 13. Carol of the Bells (interlude) 14. Christmas Time is in the Air Again 15. O Holy Night 16. The Distance 17. We Belong Together 18. Hero 19. All I Want For Christmas is You Performance date: 11th December 2018 Buy Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas II You