Review — Mariah Carey Enchants Ball Arena Beneath Falling Snow

On November 21st, pop superstar Mariah Carey made her Ball Arena debut and proved that Denver’s ready for the holiday season. Rolling into the venue, it was clear the holiday cheer had already begun to encompass the city. Families rocked full-on Santa getups, jingling sleigh bells, ready to get their Mariah Carey Christmas fix. Carey ushered in Christmas to Denver with hits from her holiday albums that she’s been serenading audiences with for over thirty years, enchanting all in attendance.

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DJ Suss One — Mariah’s longtime friend and DJ — kicked off the night with an eclectic set. His playlist was like a time-traveling mixtape, strategically designed to span the vast age ranges of the audience. The crowd erupted in cheers as the classics were pumped into the arena, showing that some music transcends decades. The stage was set, paying homage to music legends such as Michael Jackson, Prince and Whitney Houston, paving the way for the entrance of a musical icon in her own right.

The crowd chattered and laughter filled the air as the band, dressed in white tuxedos, took the stage. Twinkling music queued the arrival of dancers dressed as bellhops who rolled two large presents onto the stage. Child ballerinas emerged from the boxes, pirouetting and leaping like figure skaters. It was a joyous musical spectacle. With the rising smoke, Carey emerged from the stage like a winter queen in an iridescent red dress—a vision of the winter wonderland she had created.

The white floor and risers glistened like hills of fallen snow and ice. The instruments were also a shade of glistening white and the screen behind the stage lent to the illusion of being in a giant snow globe. Dancers donned an array of outfits ranging from nutcrackers to elves, creating a visual extravaganza of Christmas fantasy. Carey, in a series of playfully aware diva moments, underwent five outfit changes and had her Glam Squad take the stage for live touch-ups between songs. She even cracked jokes about her crew hiding presents she was planning to give to the crowd. When Santa inevitably made his grand entrance, he didn’t just dance, he hauled a real bag of presents and chucked them into the crowd like he was gunning for the Nice List.

Any doubts about Carey’s vocal prowess were swiftly put to rest as her voice — often too beautiful to fathom —cascaded like water down a flowing stream. Even when she jokingly sang an impromptu Glam Squad theme song, she made sure that it was laced with vocal frills and sweet vibrato.  She drove segments of the audience into a frenzy with passing waves, commanding the stage with the grace expected from a music icon. She made eye contact and shared smiles that made it feel as if she was performing just for each individual in the crowd.

This gig was a full-on family affair. Carey’s kids, Moroccan and Monroe, showcased their musical talents on stage. A heartwarming rendition of “Jesus Born on This Day” saw mother and daughter harmonizing seamlessly. Moroccan showed his rhythmic ability, giving smashing drum solos and embarrassed son energy in abundance. Family memories played during “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” capturing the tender moments shared by Carey and her kids.

Shifting from the Christmas setlist, Carey delivered a medley of hits spanning her extensive career, including “Always Be My Baby,” “Dream Lover” and “We Belong Together.” The choreography took on a sultrier tone, and the lights cast a soft pink glow, creating a dreamlike atmosphere for those of us who grew up jamming to these tunes.

“I wanted to bring hope to everybody out there,” Carey said in a pre-“Hero” inspirational speech. The lights filled Ball Arena like falling snow and her soft yet powerful song lifted everyone’s spirits. What Carey brought to Denver wasn’t just a concert: it was like a musical time machine, letting everyone forget the world outside for a bit. For just that moment, we were all transported back to when we were kids, running down the stairs on Christmas morning.

Carey, blissfully unaware of Denver’s October snowstorm, was giddy about bringing the first snow to the city. As the iconic “All I Want for Christmas Is You” kicked in, snow began to descend, creating a flurry of festive ecstasy. Carey showcased her impressive 5-octave range, hitting sweetly impossible whistle notes that gave a Christmas sugar high. The grand exit saw Carey and her children roll off in a giant toy train, waving like royalty and blowing kisses.

In the end, Carey’s performance reminded those in the crowd why she is one of the greats, putting on a show that undeniably put everyone in the Christmas spirit. Her voice cut through the chaos, warming hearts with melodies. It was a show that wasn’t just entertaining: it was a reminder of how awesome humanity can be and how a person’s talent has the potential to inspire hope in the masses.