Mariah Hits All the Right Notes at L.A. Show

Rap-Up Exclusive: Mariah Carey took her comeback full circle when she appeared Friday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on her “Adventures of Mimi Tour.” It had been a little more than six years since her last stop at Staples on the “Rainbow Tour.” Mariah sounded and looked better than ever before as she performed a two-hour set, packed with some of her biggest hits ranging from her debut album to last year’s The Emancipation of Mimi.

Busta Rhymes opened, running through a set that included hits spanning from “Woo-Hah! Got You All In Check” to “I Love My Bitch,” but Busta lacked the infectious energy that his live performances have become known for. Backed by the Flipmode Squad’s Spliff Starr, Bus plugged The Big Bang constantly, hoping that some of Mariah’s sales would rub off on him. The rapper catered to the mostly female audience and got a little steamy, even imitating smacking a woman’s ass complete with slap sound effects. It was more hilarious than raunchy.

When Mariah finally made her entry from below the stage, she kicked things off with “It’s Like That.” Wearing black hot pants and a sequined black bra, the diva looked curvy and sexy. DJ Clue manned the turntables as she segued her way into “Heartbreaker (Remix)” with a surprise appearance by Da Brat. She later switched things up and remixed “Dreamlover” with Biggie’s “Juicy.” The Greater Los Angeles Cathedral Choir joined her in an “unrehearsed” moment for “Fly Like A Bird,” in which Mariah nailed the high notes.

Fans got to know the diva more intimately as she sipped from her Fiji water bottle in between songs. At one point, she smelled someone’s cigarette and made her disapproval of smoking clear, asking that the culprit put out his cigarette. “Wasn’t L.A. the first city to ban smoking?” she asked. There were a throng of celebrity admirers in the audience including Eddie Murphy, Penny Marshall, and Melody Thornton from the Pussycat Dolls. Mariah has always been known to appreciate her fans and she connected with them throughout the show, reading aloud signs and posters. One pregnant fan even asked Mariah to name her unborn son. The singer suggested Roy (after her late father), Trey (for backup singer Trey Lorenz), and Carey, but joked that she shouldn’t name the boy Mariah.

Towards the middle of the show, Mariah moved to the center of the arena, performing “Fantasy,” “Don’t Forget About Us,” and “Always Be My Baby” with her sunglasses on. The late ODB appeared on the screens for his rap in “Fantasy.” One fan requested that she sing “Crybaby,” the song she did with Snoop, but Mariah said her band didn’t even know how to play it. Instead, she did “Thank God I Found You/Make It Last” with Trey Lorenz.

Mariah closed the show with last year’s mega hit, “We Belong Together,” proving that there’s only one diva who can sell out an arena, hit all the high notes, and still look damn good doing it.

Photos by David Silpa