Friday, February 26, 2010

Whitney's Hot Mess Tour

I grew up listening to Whitney Houston. Her debut was the soundtrack to every dinner party my mother held in the mid-80s (along with Sade’s “Diamond Life”) and 1987’s “Whitney” was the first album I bought. My interest waned during the Bobby Brown years but “I Look To You” reignited the flame and I couldn’t wait to see the legendary diva drag her crack ravaged carcass around the stage despite the abysmal reviews. Critics have ridiculed Whitney’s voice, questioned her professionalism and mocked her wardrobe. And it’s hard to disagree. Her rendition of “The Greatest Love Of All” was a travesty, she often appeared as high as a kite disorientated and returned to the stage after intermission looking like she had just crawled out of Ke$ha’s luxury dumpster. The thing is – I still loved every minute of it. Whitney’s voice has taken more of a beating than Madonna’s vagina but her vocal shortcomings somehow made the show more intimate and raw, evoking an unexpectedly emotional response from the audience who took over singing duties when she couldn’t. It would have been easy to come on stage and mime like Britney but Nippy kept it real, flaws and all.

The show started promisingly. Whitney looked amazing in a slinky gold dress and launched straight into two of my favourite songs from her latest album – “For The Lovers” and “Nothin’ But Love”. Her voice was shaky but nowhere near as bad as the reviews would have you believe. It was great to see her looking so radiant and I was happy to see her (clumsily) perform some choreography. Someone needs to sign her up to the Kylie school of hand-dancing! There was a palpable sense of relief from fans when she finally made her way though “I Look To You” after a dodgy start and things genuinely looked up when she performed a brilliant reggae tinged version of “My Love Is Your Love” (one of my all time favourite songs) and endearingly hummed a few lines from “Like I Never Left”. Introducing her daughter to the crowd was a nice touch and I loved her diva tantrum before “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”. The sound apparently wasn’t up to scratch and she had three false starts before belting out the song in rather fabulous style. A spot on rendition of “If I Told You That” closed the first act, which more than exceeded my expectations.

Unfortunately, the Whitney express was destined for a head on collision. The intermission was her first big mistake. It was great to hear her brother sing and I loved her band’s version of “Queen Of The Night” but the “One Moment In Time” video montage was a potent reminder of the sad decline in Whitney’s voice. She didn’t help her cause by returning to the stage wearing a transparent black top and what at first glance looked like a fluffy car seat cover. Her hair was also sweat soaked and limp, making the entire ensemble less than flattering. The acoustic section that followed was very hit and miss. “Saving All My Love For You” was rough but poignant, while “The Greatest Love Of All” was heartbreakingly bad. Whitney redeemed herself somewhat with a respectable take on “All At Once” before really coming through on “I Learned From The Best”, which was probably her best vocal performance of the night.

More enjoyable still was her increasingly erratic behaviour – she inexplicably stopped singing in the middle of songs, congratulated a lesbian couple holding a 25 Year anniversary banner on being “friends” as long as she has been making music, turned her back on the audience to speak to the band for extended periods, said that she was pleased to see so many people “as old as her mother” in the crowd and talked about missing Michael Jackson before ranting about fans talking to her while she’s trying to eat. It was a complete car crash but I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

Less fun was her extended sermon about Jesus and her woefully inept rendition of “I Love The Lord”. It was around this time that people started to walk out but it was their loss because (the remainder of) the crowd was completely swept up in the warm nostalgia of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “How Will I Know”. Her voice was pretty croaky by then but Whitney’s energy and obvious delight in getting her fans on their feet was compensation her vocal problems. I was genuinely worried when she launched into “I Will Always Love You” but it turned out to be surprisingly competent - if you overlook the two minutes of silence mid-song when she strolled to the back of the stage to grab a drink. Whitney’s upper and lower register are intact, it’s just everything else she has a problem with. I loved hearing her belt out her biggest hit and was moved when she hit the big note at the end. She probably should have left things there but she returned for a fun but sloppy version of “Million Dollar Bill”, followed by “I’m Every Woman”. That is until she turned around and left the stage halfway through the song without saying a word, leaving her band and dancers red faced. It was a fittingly twisted end to an emotional rollercoaster that I’d happily take again. Whitney is a lot of things. Boring isn’t one of them.

16 comments:

Mr. Will-W. said...

Amazing! so jealous!!

John said...

That is the epitome of hot mess. Hopefully you don't feel like you need a refund!

Magical Froggy said...

Wait, she was EATING on stage? :|

Jafet M. Denegri said...

she is all the man that i need, jajaja i love her and i don't care her messy behavior!!!!

Tommy said...

I've been totally MIA from the comments here, but when I heard Whitney was taking her mess to Sydney, I had to wonder if you were going.. LOL

Glad to know it wasn't the travesty of Brisbane. Your review put it all in perspective.. Looks to me like things went downhill the moment she started to tackle her old hits. Interesting that you say her upper and lower range are still intact, it's just everything else. Personally, I think she needs a musical makeover and a completely new approach altogether (not sure if doing arenas is a good idea in her condition) to suit her "new" voice. She's probably too much of a diva at this point to do so.. Although if she ever brings her sweaty ass to Canada, I'm so there. Even if she probably shouldn't.

Miss Halliwell said...

So fucking fabulous!

I love a bit of croak in that old crackwhores voice.

It's a shame that she is so fucking mentally unstable though.

Did she sing "Own Strength" or has pedo with a quiff Danyl off X-Factor ruined that too?

Whitney might not have THE voice anymore but she is trying. See that Oprah show where she said "i am off crack" did she mean just for the hour the show was on? LOL

I bet you dribbled in your knickers all the way home after this trainwreck!

God Bless Nippy and all who sail in her!

tommie said...

Haha, the tour sounds right up my strasse!

Me said...

I'm surprised she didn't whip out a few favourite delights from her extensive sex toy collection and have a quick fiddle.

Guy said...

Messy divas are much more interesting than competent divas.

The Prophet said...

I'm so upset I didn't go. It sounds really intimate and raw like you said. Whitney always has a really good way of connecting with her fans, she isn't fake like Beyonce.

Sexbox said...

I hope Whitney makes it to Miami. I really want to WHITNEss the tragedy first hand. Her voice seems hit or miss lately. Some live performances on youtube she sounds ok.....others really bad.

Robpop said...

great review. Was she drinking (water) during the night??

Maybe shes not be treating her vocals with the respect she needs to. Get her to a vocal coach (A good one) immediately. ;-)

For girls where their voice is them most important thing ever...sound has to be 100%...so damn right...she should stop. Love it.

undisco_me said...

If I had front row seats that would have been the best night of my life.

D'luv said...

I would have paid double the ticket price to see this hot trash...and then I would've pinned her down and let a kangaroo chew off her dusty taco.

WJW In Oz said...

Shame I missed Whitney. I was considering it, but then changed my mind at the last minute...

Your review gives a different angle, on what we (the fans) expect from a performer. And considering all that she's been through, and that she is still getting out there, and giving it a go, she at least deserves some kudos for her efforts.

It's also great to see, that some of us out there, are forgiving enough to accept her warts and all...

It's pretty gutsy of the lady to get out there on the road, still be in the spotlight, and try to maintain some semblance of dignity, when the whole world knows what she was up to whilst she was 'on hiatus'.

The rest of us have the luxury of indulging in all manner of activities, behind closed doors, without it being broadcast to the world.

Whitney, you are one helluva hot mess, and I fk'ing salute you!

Collin said...

Hey, there's a lot of effective info here!
sexiest women | English Saddle | Grenada island