“She don’t want to come, my soprano friend,” Houston sang in the midst of her staple song “I Will Always Love You,” USA Today reported. It was the opening night for the European leg of her “Nothing But Love” tour and her first performance at the venue since 1999.
Houston continued to explain problems with her voice. “Sometimes the old girl sings, but not tonight,” she added. “I want to do it, but she doesn’t want to. … She’s getting a little … temperamental, even.”
Houston, who blamed the O2’s air conditioning for the problem, reportedly sang just parts of some songs, appeared out of breath, and relied on her background singers to fill in.
Unfortunately, Houston’s vocal issues were also noted when she performed on Good Morning America last September, and when she began her Australian tour in February.
Gerry Ryan, who hosts Ireland’s The Gerry Ryan Show, said the concert was better than described by some critics. “[Houston] delivered an unusual but extraordinary performance last night,” he said on Monday’s radio broadcast . “I’ve never seen a star received with so much affection and so much love.”
Still, USA Today noted that hundreds of the sold-out crowd walked out of the O2 in disappointment.
Mark Higgins complained about the concert. “She can’t even complete a song,” he told USA Today. He was especially upset because his daughter gave him and his wife the tickets as a Christmas gift. “She’s going to be heartbroken, because she saved up all her money for this.”
During the performance of “Greatest Love Of All,” Houston brought a young girl on stage to sing the song. Houston was moved watching the girl sing the lyrics that include the lines, “No matter what they take from me, They can’t take away my dignity.”
Houston smiled and fanned her hands for more applause from the audience.
Maybe this is why she did not further delay her return to the stage. She could have taken more time to rehabilitate from her years of drug abuse. But connecting with her fans appears to be her best medicine.
Despite the criticisms and dealing with the reality that her voice is not as strong as it was a decade ago, she has found the confidence to perform for her fans.
I am amazed by her tenacity.