“This is us being creative. We don’t wanna be seen in a sling.”
Those were the first words from Mariah Carey, clad in a white bejeweled gown with matching arm sling, as a crew of stylists draped a giant feather wrap around her injured right arm. Mariah had just performed “My All,” one of four songs she sang as a featured guest with the New York Philharmonic at the MLB’s All-Star Charity Concert in Central Park Saturday night, an event that benefitted Hurricane Sandy victims.
“I am filming this for myself so that i can remember this moment,” she said as the white feather wrap was positioned. “Is this working? Do we like it? Is it too much fullness? I’m doing the best with what I got – seriously.”
Carey’s performance was something of a mini-triumph, coming less than a week after the singer dislocated her shoulder and fractured a rib on the set of the video shoot for the hip-hop remix of current single “#Beautiful.” She tweeted several photos and videos of her release from the hospital on July 11, and later confirmed that “The show must go on” in regard to the Philharmonic performance.
Thanks all for the well wishes <3 Still in a lot of pain – cracked rib, fractured shoulder, bruises everywhere, but the show must go on.
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) July 11, 2013
But it was not, as many fans mistakenly hoped, a full-length concert from Mariah. The free (with pre-registered tickets) concert was not dissimilar to one of the New York Philharmonic’s regularly scheduled concerts in the Park, with Mariah putting a symphonic spin on three of her hits and one surprising fan favorite.
“I’m gonna sing a song from the ‘Daydream’ album I’ve never sung before,” Mariah said as she introduced the song “Looking In,” an intimate piano ballad. “Do we have anyone from the Lambly in the house? I wrote it in about 15 minutes, and it requires a bit more stability than I have right now. I kinda got in trouble for writing this song so I’m gonna try.”
A song about Mariah’s lingering insecurities despite the perceived blessings of fame, “Looking In” goes deep lyrically pretty quickly — and left Carey visibly emotional, stopping to catch her breath at one point. “She smiles through a thousand tears / And harbors adolescent fears,” Carey sings, writing from the perspective of “somebody outside looking in,” adding, “She dreams of all / That she can never be / She wades in insecurity, yeah / And hides herself inside of me.”
After a warm reception for the relatively obscure song, Mariah was lowered through a door in the middle of the stage and re-emerged some 45 minutes later after a 20-minute intermission and another set of instrumentals by the Philharmonic. This time clad in an all-black version of the ensemble she wore during the first act, Mariah performed current single “#Beautiful,” sans duet partner Miguel, and closed with inspirational ballad “Hero,” a fitting tribute to the Hurricane Sandy survivors in the crowd as well as the everyday heroic feats that her fans and, just this week, Mariah herself have accomplished. “There’s a hero inside of you and you and you,” Mariah trilled, letting her working arm carry her index finger through scales upon scales of melisma.
Mariah’s next album, tentatively titled “The Art of Letting Go,” may have just been postponed, but the estimated turnout of 60,000 people for Saturday’s performance was a clear sign that she will have a more-than-receptive audience when it arrives.