MARIAH CAREY, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 12 Dec 2017

It must be Christmas. Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, an irresistable hit that has made the singer synonymous with the season since 1994, leapt 17 places to number five in the UK charts at the weekend. A fine excuse for the superstar to pop over and sing a festive concert gaudier than the year you let the kids decorate the tree unsupervised.

This was the first time London has experienced Carey’s four-year-old Christmas show. There were sickeningly cute children, Santa throwing teddies into the audience, a fake snow shower, plus a tree topped with a star the size of a grown man.

Having released two Christmas albums as well as providing the cheesy theme tune to the new animated Nativity movie, The Star, she had more than enough songs to fill 90 minutes. While her addition of dated dance beats to Joy to the World actually diminished the world’s joy levels, a gospel choir gave some oomph to Silent Night and an original song, Oh Santa!, was a swinging, hand-clapping delight.

With eight dancers around her – the four men getting to don various sexy tuxedos while the women had to dress as children, elves and reindeer – Careydidn’t have to move much beyond tottering to either side of the stage and waving, in a succession of red and gold gowns. At one point a dancer got down on all fours and she sat on him. But her voice remains an extraordinary thing, hitting high notes on a rare non-Christmas song, Emotions, that seemed barely possible.

Between songs she put on a fake London accent, said “I love you more!” to every audience declaration of adoration and revealed, unsurprisingly, that this is her favourite time of year. Royalties!

Naturally she saved All I Want for Christmas is You for the encore. It won’t be the last time anyone hears it this year but it was certainly the most memorable, with Carey in a sparkly majorette’s uniform and the full cast returning to the stage as snow and confetti fell. As Christmas build-ups go, it beat an advent calendar.

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