Like Mariah (Josh Daveta)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Turbine Studio
May 17 – 19
Did you know that Mariah Carey fans are referred to as Lambs, collectively known as her Lambility? Attendees at Josh Daveta’s “Like Mariah” probably do, given that, at times, the show seems more like a support group for the songstress’ superfans. As such, there is a wonderful feel to the night as Daveta often relocates from the stage to move amongst the partly-cabaret-seated daahlings of the audience in celebration of everyone’s favourite diva Mariah Carey.
The show, which was first seen last year at the New Globe Theatre is playing in 2018 as part of the Melt Festival of Queer Arts and Culture. And it seems there may be no better place to pay homage to the ultimate angelic-voiced, gay-icon diva. In many ways, the more intimate setting of the Turbine Studio seems like a better fit too, especially in suit of inspirational and emotional ballads like ‘Thank God I Found You’.
Clearly Daveta is a Mimi fan, measuring his life by what Mariah song was a hit at the time, he tells us. Appropriately then perhaps, “Like Mariah” takes its audiences on a journey through many of Carey’s eras, from the expected classics like ‘Fantasy’ to the pop hit ‘Always Be My Baby and dancier numbers like ‘Make It Happen’. In all instances, Daveta’s stunning vocals glide between the elusive chanteuse’s classics in evocation of the full dreamy Mariah sound. He slays the vocals in ‘My All’, conveying both tenderness and power in tell of the loneliness of wanting just one more night with an estranged lover, and the polished melody of her iconic debut single ‘Vision of Love’ again make it a show highlight.
Daveta is a generous performer, always reminding us of his backup singers’ (Frances Walters, Erika Naddei and Cassie George) own outstanding vocal skills and we spend a lot of the show’s time in repeated acknowledgment of their admittedly excellent vocals. Dare I say, like in Carey’s 2016/2017 New Year’s Eve lip-sync fail in Times Square, we see George deliver a fantastic, upbeat and lighthearted ‘Emotions’ for the syncing Daveta, while Erica Naddei helps us towards a lovely show ending with ‘I’ll Be There’ in nod to the incredible duets of Carey’s career. Even Peta Wilson on keys is given a chance to show her stuff through, for example, interlude in a bouncy ‘Touch My Body.
Even for those who aren’t fan enough to know Carey’s most recent studio album, “Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse”, the show still has something to offer. The hits everyone knows are all there and the atmosphere is infectiously fun. The show offers plenty of opportunity to sing and clap along to mid-tempo numbers like ‘Always Be My Baby’ and to marvel about Carey’s number one hits, five-octave vocal range and immense vocal power. There is also a lot of humour as well, through inclusion of a Mariah-style dance break, with requisite attitude of course, and as Daveta responds to audience involvement with the instant wit of an epic diva. But most of all “Like Mariah” is an astonishing display of some of the lushest vocals around. Indeed, in Daveta’s hands the spirit of the Songbird Supreme lives on long and strong.