July 21, 2006

Review: Madonna, NYC, Madison Square Garden, 7/18/06

Madonna is the ultimate star. If you have the chance to see her Confessions Tour, you’ll come away with the realization that there is no one like her, nor will there ever be again. I’ve seen her live 4 times and I‘ve never seen her work this hard. Singing, dancing, playing guitar. She really does pour everything she has physically, mentally and artistically into her shows.

“Future Lovers” is a suitably intense opening, working the audience to a screeching pitch. Following up the amazing “Beast Within” video on her last tour, this one has freaky images of Madonna-as-horse. The real Madonna emerged from a disco ball in Gaultier riding apparel with a long ponytail sticking out of her hat. It was a thumping mix of Donna Summer (literally, with “I Feel Love” worked in) and Goldfrappish horse galloping / trot choreography.

The most popular songs of the night, from my view, were the “Hung Up” finale (which was beautiful to look at, but dragged on a bit) and “Sorry” which she did against a backdrop of oil – it also had the cage battle from the video. My personal favorite was the John Travolta-SNF inspired “Music Inferno.” This one is Madonna’s version of a fan’s mashup of “Music” and “Disco Inferno.” The dancing was phenomenal and I still can’t believe the roller-skaters didn’t roll right of the stage. If you’d like to watch a good (full) video of it, click below! The dancing at about 1:40 is brilliant!

Madonna donned glam rockware and played electric guitar on “I Love New York,” which was performed on a pleasingly white stage with cool background animation of the Manhattan skyline. Watch it below (with a few wonky dark spots in the vid).

She also played guitar on a pretty version of “Paradise” that featured a beautiful cherry blossom background. The Wyckoff Correspondent was most enthused by a simple version of “Drowned World” that she sung sitting on the stage steps.

“Forbidden Love” featured some of the strangest modern dance I have ever seen, which you could dub arm dancing. The two men never really moved their bodies, but they intertwined their arms in all these intricate snakey moves, as if they were double jointed. At the end of the song Madonna inserted herself into this human puzzle. I wonder how long it took them to get that choreography mastered? Watch a segment of it below...

Musically, besides the brilliance of “Music Inferno,” there is also an elegant version of “Erotica” that mixes in an unreleased track called “You Thrill Me” to very nice effect. The couples dancing during the song was very slinky 70’s, performed with much… looking for the word… élan!

The whole look of the show was beautiful. Different moods for each song conveyed with lighting and videos on huge screens. I should also note that the somewhat lame tour programme comes with stickers, which my companions figured were Lourdes' contribution to the show: “Mom! You totally need to give them some stickers!”

If I had to pick a piece of the show I didn’t like, I would just say that “La Isla Bonita” was a mistake, especially since it was done to such beautiful effect on the Drowned World Tour. She should have done something rare like “Borderline” or “Gambler” instead! I also used to like how she made her background singers such a big part of the show. It was an hour before I even saw Donna Delory onstage and the singers only had really had one real moment, during the James Brown shtick that started
“Lucky Star.”

The other commanding presence onstage besides Madonna is background dancer
Cloud, who Madonna has said inspired much of this show. It was his own abuse story that started “Live To Tell” and his energy seemed to guide the other dancers throughout the night. For those who don’t know him, Cloud was on the last tour and is the one she gives the guitar to in the “Secret” documentary.

I sat in the last row, literally, and I’d say that this show is probably worth paying more for good seats. Many of the seats had very close-up access to Madonna since there were three catwalks. Much of it was performed with Madonna out in the middle of the arena floor. NBC is going to air “Confessions” during November sweeps, so everyone will be able to get a look at this amazing show. For all those who say she is too old and should hang it up, fuck off bitches! It is a testament to her increasingly strong performance skills that she is able to captivate an arena totally alone onstage (see below...).

Varant: Very happy to finally meet you! Next time we'll get together (see what I did there?) properly!


Paul said...

great write up - that must have taken ages. can't wait for 13th august now :)

V said...

Great review XO! It was nice meeting you too. Seeing Madonna for the first time was a great experiance. I don't think I've ever gone to a show where the artist really goes all out in both performance and vision. Lovely!