When we read the first review of Whitney Houston‘s concert in Australia, we put it down to nerves. After all, the woman was a crack cocaine addict and hadn’t really been at it for a while. The subsequent news that Whitney was rescheduling concerts in Paris and the UK due to respiratory problems was slightly alarming but we still thought she’d hit her stride before Dublin. However, YouTube clips of her performance in Birmingham, along with countless complaints about how diabolical she was, did cause a mini-panic: this woman has always been an idol, crack cocaine and all. The Icelandic volcano could have spared her blushes, until we spotted a photo of Whitney on a ferry: no getting out of it now.
Arriving on stage in a dazzling white suit to a rapturous applause from the crowd, Whitney belted straight into a track from her most recent album, which, let’s be honest, wasn’t what most of the audience had paid to hear. However, despite the fact that she was a little off-key, we persevered, and it wasn’t long before she delivered the hits. While the diva herself couldn’t hit all the notes perfectly, her backing singers were there to lend a hand. Indeed the good old Irish singalong was a blessing to her, with Whitney even commenting on how she -appreciated’ the help.
Tracks like -I Look To You’ proved particularly difficult, and it was hard not to squirm as she reached for the high notes -It’s Not Right But It’s Ok’ was easier for her to manage and helped her back in her stride. Golden oldies like -Saving All My Love For You’ were obviously missing, too complicated for a 50-year-old recovering user to master.
Half an hour into the first set, a table appeared and Whitney disappeared to put on some make-up. While some people were horrified by this diva-like behaviour. State was close enough to see the sweat pouring down her face and was delighted she took some time out for a bit of powdering. Not too long after, Whitney announced she was going to get changed into a pretty little dress for us and her brother appeared to sing a few tunes. State didn’t know she had a brother and we certainly didn’t need to know she was getting changed.
The next hour was a mirage of hits sung primarily by her array of singers, with Whitney performing backing vocals. Even the big one, -I Will Always Love You’, the one we all wanted to hear, was murdered by the very woman who had given it life. The only tune she seemed to carry perfectly was her most recent single -Million Dollar Bill’ a track that doesn’t stretch the voice as much as her old hits. Maybe if we’d been a little tipsier, we wouldn’t have noticed the failings so much, but sadly, sobriety and back singing don’t mix, making this one a bit of a catastrophe.