Concert Reviews

Mariah Carey at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

Photo courtesy of Phoebe Sequino

The lowdown

‘With the high comes the lows’ or ‘It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, the only thing that matters is you bounce back every time’. Any adage analogizing a comeback applies to Mariah Carey. The American diva has had tumultuous couple of years in the public eye – failed engagement, New Year’s Eve blunder, etc. Carey recovered from this the same way she has before: putting the music first. Her 2018 release Caution was critically acclaimed and ended up on many End of the Year lists. Carey made a Toronto Stop on the Caution World Tour at the Sony Center to reward the fanatic lambs (name of her fanbase).


who got the party started (the opener)

The few thousands making their way to the seats as the doors opened could throw it down to some serious nostalgia thanks to DJ Suss One. He was your average warm up act hyping up the crowd with oldies from 70s till 90s.To be honest, too much talking, not enough music and frankly forgettable.


this is what you came for (the headliner)

The last time Mariah Carey graced Toronto was 2017, where she was sharing the spotlight with Lionel Richie at the arena formerly known as ACC. Even though her live vocals shined, there was no real personal connection between Carey and the fans.

Fast forward to March 2019, the Long island born diva was definitely more personable and affable in the smaller Sony Centre. Often mid songs, Carey autographed merch or fan-made signs. Akin to previous shows, she brought out her twins on stage during ‘Always Be My Baby’ while background screens showed footage of her playing around with her kids. In the continued vein of Mimi being Mimi, Carey was surprisingly goofy throughout the evening. “Does it bother you”, she jokingly asked at one point, “that I take sips of my tea repeatedly?”. Or the time she got her glam squad to retouch her makeup before she “tackled the staircase”. Tonight, Carey wasn’t this larger than life diva that we got to know through music videos on MTV. Instead, the American legend with 18 #1 hits was just one of us, who happens to love glitter and posses a 5 octave vocal range.

Her accessibility didn’t take anything away from the larger than life spectacle. The setup featured giant red LED ‘M’, background footage on 4k screens, the aforementioned staircase, chiseled backup dancers and the expected stunning costumes. The evening started off with a glittered outfit. This was followed by form-fitting black dress with LED lights during the new single ‘GTFO’ and fan favourite ‘Eighth Grade’. Later, she changed into a sparkly red dress with a boa during a medley featuring ‘Never Too Far’ and disco cuts like ‘Loverboy’, ‘Last Night a DJ Saved My Life’ and ‘I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On’.

A Mariah show aint complete without Glitter. The soundtrack of the ill-fated Toronto-shot movie rose up to #1 on iTunes chart last year as a result of a push from #JusticeforGlitter social media campaign. “I saw the movie last night”, the diva playfully admitted, “and it wasn’t that bad”. The show had the required levels of glamour and the glitz that undoubtedly wowed the gathered collective of women in their 30s plus their kids and bedazzled gay men. Yet, ironically, it was the lighthearted and unassuming moments in the show that put it over the top.

Mariah Carey is transitioning into playing more intimate venues, as evidenced by the current Caution tour. Is that a downgrade? No. Instead, for the gathered faithful who will show up at every stop, it is an opportunity to celebrate the legend up-close. She is still the same Mimi you knew 30 years ago – glamorous, glittered, loveable and unquestionably talented.

About author

Unemployed U of T grad by day, Nilabjo is in this writing thing for one reason: to see shows for FREE! He is also not ashamed to admit his unabashed love for Backstreet Boys. And oh yeah, the name is pronounced the way its spelt.