Mariah Carey Brings the North Pole to Madison Square Garden at ‘Pitch-Perfect’ Christmas Show: Review

Mariah Carey Brings the North Pole to Madison Square Garden Christmas Show
Mariah Carey performs during her ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ concert. Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

Mariah Carey ended her sixth annual All I Want for Christmas tour with a bang at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Sunday, December 15.

The Queen of Christmas, 49, gave the Radio City Rockettes a run for their money with a show-stopping set featuring 11 holiday classics and four of her No. 1 singles. Plus, her longtime friend and “I’ll Be There” duet partner, Trey Lorenz, led a choir’s performance of “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child,” and Carey’s 8-year-old twins, Moroccan and Monroe, sang a cute-as-can-be rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Carey wowed the sold-out crowd with her pitch-perfect vocals, sounding better than she has in years. She rarely, if ever, hit a bum note throughout the 90-minute concert. Her awe-inspiring rendition of “Joy to the World,” in particular, proved to be a standout for the audience, which ranged from children to senior citizens. DJ Suss One, who opened the evening with a decades-spanning selection of crowd-pleasers, pointed out during his set that only Carey — and Christmas — could bring together all generations. Her celebrity attendees included Jermaine Dupri, Billy Eichner and Tessa Thompson, and the group later had dinner together at TAO Downtown.

The five-time Grammy winner took the stage shortly before 9 p.m. and wasted no time highlighting her five-octave range. She started off slow, with “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” followed by “Charlie Brown Christmas,” a custom medley of the Peanuts favorites “Linus and Lucy” and “Christmas Time Is Here” that she made for her 2010 album, Merry Christmas II You. She then kicked things up a notch with “Oh! Santa” and the fan favorite “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”

Throughout the show, Carey was ever the hostess as she introduced each of her band members and backup dancers — including her charming and talented boyfriend, Bryan Tanaka — and bantered with the audience. At one point, she poked fun at her own diva-like tendencies, admitting to fans that she was worried her cup of tea on stage may not have been the perfect temperature. However, after taking a sip, she matter-of-factly stated, “The tea is absolutely wonderful, in case you were concerned.”

The concert hit a bit of a lull in the middle as the entertainer sang two of her lesser-known holiday songs, “When Christmas Comes” and “Christmas Time Is in the Air Again,” sandwiched between an R&B-influenced cover of “Here Comes Santa Claus.” She got her Lambily back on their feet, though, with a powerful and soulful rendition of “O Holy Night,” complete with a few of her iconic whistle notes.

Mariah Carey Brings the North Pole to Madison Square Garden Christmas Show
Mariah Carey performs during her ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ concert. Shutterstock

For the final act, Carey told fans that she originally sang only Christmas songs when her now-annual festivity launched in 2014 at NYC’s much-smaller Beacon Theatre, but her agent encouraged her to spice it up with a few greatest hits. After telling the story, she ran through “Emotions,” “Always Be My Baby,” “We Belong Together” and “Hero,” the latter of which saw the audience lighting up the Garden with their smartphones.

Carey ditched her sparkly red dresses and festive angel wings in lieu of a wooden soldier-like jumpsuit for the night’s inevitable encore: her holiday megahit, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Surrounded by a larger-than-life Christmas tree, bow-adorned gifts and dancers dressed in elf costumes, Carey commanded the stage during what turned into the sing-along of a lifetime. At the very end, she danced with her children and Santa Claus, proving to some 20,000-odd people that the season would not be complete without her.

3.5 stars (out of 4)

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