MARIAH CAREY & LIONEL RICHIE IN CONCERT
I recently turned 36 and to commemorate I got a tramp stamp. It says, “FOREVER.” Nah, instead I went to the Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie concert at the United Center.
I was really excited for this show. After all, the majority of my nights are filled with watching old music videos on YouTube, specifically Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie videos.
Now, this wasn’t just any concert, this one was advertised as “All the Hits." No B-sides for this show, only the hits. I went to the concert with my friends, Julie and Nick. We coined our evening our “Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady (Boy) date. We were the best-looking brunettes who all used to play the viola to ever go to a Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie concert.
Personally, I was equally excited to see Lionel Richie and “very special guest” Mariah Carey, but my outfit choice was inspired by Mariah. I bought a pair of gigantic fake eyelashes and so began… the Emancipation of… LeeLee.
I met up with my friends for some day dranks and it was then that I realized that my fake eyelashes were so big that I couldn’t fully put on my sunglasses. After a couple of drinks, we ventured over to the bodysuit shop in Wicker Park. The store is called Personal Privilege and it’s no wonder that the store’s sign is two giant Ps right next to one another because after wearing anything from this store, you will most likely end up over at that other PP, Planned Parenthood. I asked my friend, Julie if she could buy herself a bodysuit for my birthday present. She obliged. After a quick crotch-snap of an outfit change, we were ready for the show.
Once at the show, we grabbed some over-priced tap beers and a pretzel with liquid cheese, of course. While dipping the pretzel, I dropped the cup of liquid cheese, but the Mariah and Lionel angels were watching and the liquid cheese cup landed upright on my friend’s chair. No liquid cheese was harmed and it didn’t even touch the floor or my friend’s bodysuit. Phew.
The lights went dark and Mariah appeared on stage in a white throne, naturally. A background dancer manually pushed her to the center of the stage, took her by the hand and spun her around as she smiled in her floor-length glittery gown. She then went into a medley of “Honey” and “Heartbreaker.”
You may have heard that Mariah has been getting a lot of flack over the past couple of years for forgetting lyrics to her own songs and not moving around much on stage. And boy, she did not disappoint there. For the first few songs, she would stand up for a bit and then sit back in her throne. Mariah plays into her “Diva” role. She asked the audience if it was OK to have a glam moment. She sat back into her throne and two assistants came out and reapplied her makeup and touched up her extensions.
The throne was removed and she went into a few of the early 2000 rap songs with Busta Rhymes and Jermaine Dupree. A friend sent me a quip from US Weekly prior to the concert saying that Mariah doesn’t allow projected images of herself on screen, mostly because people say really super mean things about her appearance. Our seats were in the 300 section so unfortunately we couldn’t see much besides a beautiful, glittery blob. Instead of current footage, they showed old music videos and she would half sing over them.
About mid-set, she announced, “This next song is for dead babies.” There was a pause throughout the crowd. Then there were images of kids running around on screen. My friends and I looked at each other confused, thinking that she maybe said, “Deaf babies” and that it was a new charity single, although that didn’t make much sense either. Then the kids from the video ran out on stage and she half sang “Always Be My Baby” to them and we realized that they were her kids and she said, “Dem (D-E-M) Babies” in reference to her kiddos.
She sang a few more ballads including “One Sweet Day,” “We Belong Together” and “Vision of Love.” She left the stage a couple of times for more full-length glittery gown outfit changes. The music swelled and the hot mess of Mariah finished her set.
After a short intermission, the lights went black again and we heard Lionel’s friendly voice. He said, “Hello?” and then he sat at his piano and opened with “Easy.” What a tease. Now, let me tell you, Lionel is a performer. This concert was initially postponed because he had hip surgery and wanted everyone to be dancing on the ceiling. It was worth the frickin’ wait. Lionel was movin’ and a groovin’ like the brick house he is. He was so personable too. Unlike Mariah, he had projected images on screen so we could actually see him. He talked to the audience often between songs sharing tales left and right about how various people who worked at the United Center in all different types of roles, told him that they made love to his music.
Early in his set, an audience member shouted, “All Night Long.” Lionel said, “All Night Long? You don’t just go into a song like All Night Long. Tonight, I’m going to teach you a lesson on foreplay.” Wow. A concert AND a learning experience. $75 well spent.
As promised, he played all the hits. We heard “Running Through the Night,” “You Are,” “Truly,” “Say You Say Me” and more. He went into a super funky Commodores set including my personal favorite, “Sail On.” It’s so good.
The lights went dark again and the biggest disco ball in the world was lit. Lionel sat back at his piano and played, “Hello.” The disco ball was so bright that it blinded us just like the girl in the video. Then the ushers passed out clay and everyone molded their very own Lionel heads to take home. J/K. I WISH!
Lionel was great, but so was his band. This show had so much back-to-back guitar action meaning the guitarist and bass player often wailed on their instruments with their backs on each of Lionel’s arms while he stood in the middle of them doing pelvic thrusts. Pretty sure his hip healed just fine. There was also a stellar sax guy who dropped to knees in the moment not only once, but TWICE!
We hoped that Mariah would come out and sing “Endless Love” with Lionel, but sadly our wishes didn’t come true. Lionel encored with a tearjerking sing-along of “We Are the World.” But that wasn’t it, the man said that he was teaching us a lesson on foreplay and the man was about to climax. He ended the evening with “All Night Long.” Jumba Jumba.
I parted ways from my pals and took a Lyft Line home. We picked up some other concert goers and we compared notes. I mentioned what Mariah said and before I finished, one of the passengers said, “Oh my god, I thought she said ‘dead babies.’” Me too, stranger. Me too.
I’m taking this great show as a sign of good fortune that 36 just might be my year because I didn’t spill the liquid cheese on my friend’s bodysuit and I took off my fake eyelashes before going to bed. Jumba Jumba.