Published on theMusic.com.au, Nov 2014
Once withdrawals subsided from the lack of data coverage, the full captivating atmospehere of Sandalford Winery was revealed. Light rain formed a refreshing mist that caught the stage lights and set the scene for Mariah Carey’s grand entrance, sending the wine-filled crowd massed there into hysterics. A backing band and dance troupe of 12 paraded the stage to Fantasy and to some, as they tore the skin from their throats with excitement, it seemed like a daydream.
Unfortunately, the conviction of Touch My Body and Shake It Off fell short as the pop star tiptoed across the wet stage in heels, but Emotions were set straight when Grammy Award-winning producer, musical director and pianist James “Big Jim” Wright began a stripped-back jam, building into a ten-minute epic led by backing vocalist Trey Lorenz while Carey disappeared to change into something a little more appropriate.
Her return was met with more problems. “I can’t hear myself,” she quietly muttered into her gold microphone, but the crowd sure could when the opening lines of the appropriatly titled Cry were sung. With the evening’s passion reignited, Carey perched herself upon Wright’s paino and took a sip of wine, setting the scene for a version of Ella Fitzgerald’s Lullaby Of Birdland.
Tracks from the Butterfly album received the biggest response, but it was nonsensical stage banter – like that of a crazed aunt at a family gathering – that really had punters eating from her palm.
With her set quickly drawing to a close, “strict regulations” dictated another hinderance, and the crowd was forced to vote on whether Car Ride Medley or Honey made the set. With Car Ride Medley tailored towards “fan fans”, it wasn’t surprising the latter won, and while a safe bet, its accompanying choreographed dance moves and bright visuals confirmed the majority had made the right choice.
While tracks like Honey and set highlight, Carry Me Home, which pushed Carey’s vocal range to its limits and had all 12 members of her backing band hard at work, were great, it was quieter, more intimate moments in the set, when her voice wasn’t buried and almost inaudable, that shined in a surprisingly rounded and balanced set, despite the technical difficulites.