SHE REALLY IS THE QUEEN: MADONNA @ THE FORUM (LA SHOW REVIEW)

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If anyone is in doubt as to whether Madonna still deserves the reputation she once held as a world-class artist, I can tell you she very much does. In my mind, her stellar performance at The Forum on Tuesday solidified her iconic status forever.

The night started out great. Everyone was in their seat and the packed Forum was ready to rock at 9 PM because, well, shows at The Forum ALWAYS start at 9, right? Not Madonna. This diva goes on whenever she and her beyond-rehearsed crew feel like it. People warned me of this, but I didn’t listen. I should have.

Time started to pass. I mingled with the people around me, noticing the colorful crowd of young, old, gay, straight, weird, normal…you know, the type of crowd that would go see Madonna on a weeknight. To my left was a couple that works for Fox News. To my right, a gentleman who builds offices for AT&T. He got his ticket through a raffle and paid around $1,000 for the seat. Needless to say, I felt grateful to be there, although my patience was starting to wear thin as the minutes ticked by…

At around 10:30, the show finally began. The anticipation in the audience was obvious, and when Madonna took the stage, everyone more or less freaked out. It was almost like the beginning of a Medieval Times match. For almost 15 minutes, we watched soldiers march, Asian-doll-looking dancers twirl, and then finally Madonna appeared, locked in a cage. She freed herself from its captivity, and the (what seemed like Broadway-caliber) show began.

Instantly, from the second the lights dimmed and the band started playing the first song of the night, “Iconic,” the show was noticeably different and far from just “a concert.” It was truly like a Cirque Du Soleil performance. Everything was executed perfectly. The level of drama was consistent but not overbearing. There were fight scenes, dances on staircases that fell from the ceiling, pole swinging, and choreography from start to finish. Continue reading “SHE REALLY IS THE QUEEN: MADONNA @ THE FORUM (LA SHOW REVIEW)”

MADONNA DIPS AND RISES, AND SURPRISES (SAN DIEGO’S SHOW REVIEW)

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Well, well, well! After all these years, Madonna still has the ability to surprise.

She demonstrated this several times during her sold-out Thursday night “Rebel Heart” tour concert at Valley View Casino Center, if not in ways you might expect from this legendary provocateur-turned-pop-culture institution.

Indeed, who would have predicted — even just a few years ago — that a highlight of a Madonna concert would be a gently strummed ukulele version of “True Blue,” her doo-wop-flavored 1986 hit?

Or that she would croon, in passable French, “La Vie en Rose,” Edith Piaf’s mid-1940s signature song about the perpetual allure of love?

Or that she would start her 2000 dance-floor favorite “Music” as a svelte, cocktail-jazz ballad, before the beat and song kicked into gear?

It was doubly unexpected that Madonna would surprise more in small ways, especially given her continuing penchant for presenting eye-popping, Vegas-meets-Broadway concerts that revel in over-the-top spectacle. And there was spectacle galore at Madonna’s first show here since her 2008 election-day show at Petco Park

Celebrating President Obama’s ascension to the White House, Madonna exulted to the Petco audience: “It’s is the best day of my life!” Continue reading “MADONNA DIPS AND RISES, AND SURPRISES (SAN DIEGO’S SHOW REVIEW)”

5 THOUGHTS ON HER BUTTON-PUSHING SHOW IN LOS ANGELES

Throbbing beats, bare-chested men and a whole crew of pole-dancing nuns: It was clearly Madonna’s time to shine Tuesday night at the Forum, where the veteran pop star brought her “Rebel Heart” tour for 2 ½ hours of gleefully profane pageantry. We’ll have a full review later, but until then here are five quick thoughts on the show.

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1. Katy Perry put in an appearance near the end of the concert when Madonna brought her onstage during “Unapologetic Bitch.” After spanking the younger singer (who pretended to tear up at the attention), Madonna presented Perry with a banana-shaped flask and invited her to have a sip of whatever was inside it. “I love you, Mom!” Perry said.

2. The set list pulled deeply from this year’s “Rebel Heart” album, opening with “Iconic” and moving through eight more of Madonna’s new tunes, including “HeartBreakCity,” which she performed on a spiral staircase, and “Living for Love,” presented here in a thumping trance remix.

3. The focus on fresh material meant that Madonna skipped some of her biggest hits, such as “Papa Don’t Preach” and “Express Yourself.” (And no “Ray of Light”? Madness.) But the singer did find time for lovely renditions of “True Blue” and the French standard “La Vie en Rose,” both of which had her accompanying herself on ukulele.

4. Can we talk about Madonna’s dancers? With more than a dozen of them, the show had plenty of elaborate choreography to go along with the sparkly costumes and flashy video elements. Most impressive was a routine during “Illuminati” that had a group of dancers spinning atop long, flexible poles.

5. As always with Madonna, no culture was safe from her appropriation, be it the samurai warriors she battled in “Iconic,” the flamenco moves she tried during “La Isla Bonita” or the Jazz Age flapper dress she donned for a supper-club makeover of “Music.” Watch and learn, Katy.

Source : LosAngelesTimes

MADONNA DOESN’T CARE ABOUT AGING GRACEFULLY — WHICH IS WHY SHE’S STILL OUR HOTTEST POP STAR

Madonna
The Forum
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015

There comes a time in our lives, if we’re lucky, when we find peace with who we are and what we have to give to the world. It’s an unapologetic life stage wherein we stop trying to prove ourselves and follow our own hearts, giving fewer and fewer fucks about others’ approval or opinion.

One might think Madonna, who has always challenged norms and pushed boundaries both as an artist and a woman, has been this way since day one. But as anyone who saw last night’s Rebel Heart tour stop at the Forum could surely tell, she’s living her new album title and making it her truth more than ever before. In the past, she always came out fighting (and usually won). But these days she’s having fun in a whole new way that shows she’s only just begun to inhabit this older, wiser phase of her career. She’s basking in it like never before and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.

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OK, so it would have been nice if she had considered, before starting the show an hour late, that it was a weeknight and many of us (who are older ourselves, and lack Madge’s renowned stamina) had to work the next day. But all was forgiven when Madonna kicked off her set in typically brash fashion, descending from an elevated cage as dancers dressed as Mongolian warriors and brandishing Crusaders’ crosses marched about the stage, which extended out into the floor seats with a runway that ended in a heart shape.

The de rigueur religious iconography we expect from Madonna was limited mostly to the first part of the show, but that doesn’t mean it was insignificant, and she definitely didn’t go for anything old hat. Madonna may not be as shocking as she once was, but she still knows how to make blasphemy eye-popping and artful. At this point in her career, truly nothing is sacred. We’re talking nuns on cross-shaped stripper poles and an orgylike spectacle atop the Last Supper dinner table.

Continue reading “MADONNA DOESN’T CARE ABOUT AGING GRACEFULLY — WHICH IS WHY SHE’S STILL OUR HOTTEST POP STAR”

MADONNA FEELS HER “REBEL HEART” BEAT AT THE FORUM

20151028_160022000_iOSAs watchful a superstar as pop has ever known, Madonna paused not long into her concert at the Forum to appraise the recent renovation of the venerable Inglewood arena, which has housed so many of her performances over the decades that “I feel like this is one of my homes,” she said.

“I see the ceiling is getting lower and lower,” she went on. “Or is that my ego getting bigger and bigger?”

Surely, one needn’t eliminate the possibility of the other.

Part of her world tour behind this year’s “Rebel Heart” album, Tuesday’s show spared no opportunity to remind the capacity crowd of the singer’s incalculable influence on modern music. (The evening’s second song was the 2015 single “Bitch I’m Madonna.”)

But if her legacy is secure, Madonna at 57 no longer holds down pop’s center. Taylor Swift sells more records and concert tickets. Beyoncé is a more coveted interview. Katy Perry, who turned up onstage at the Forum on Tuesday night to pay her respects with a slyly backhanded compliment, has more followers on social media.

So, as much as she was celebrating her own importance, Madonna seemed to be looking for ways to demonstrate that she still mattered. What was remarkable was that she succeeded by taking advantage of her experience, not by running from it.

Continue reading “MADONNA FEELS HER “REBEL HEART” BEAT AT THE FORUM”

THE QUEEN OF POP REIGNED SUPREME OVER THE CITY OF ANGELS

It’s decent work, if you can get it,” Madonna told a capacity crowd at The Forum in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. The pop music legend was surrounded by her dance crew; a group always there to lift her up, to help her down stairs, to fetch her water when she is thirsty. But this little quip could have applied both to herself and her infinitely impressive troupe, as a recurring theme through her two-hour set was humility. She would joke about the ceiling seeming lower because of her inflated ego, but the reality is that even after 32 years of reigning as the Queen of Pop, she remains grateful of her life and profession.

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Madonna’s gratitude should have been difficult to muster given the turmoil she endured for the release of this year’s Rebel Heart. This included two separate leaks of both demos and finished tracks off the album, all stemming from a hack on her personal computer that ended with a 14-month sentence in an Israeli prison for the culprit. Because of the hacker’s actions, however, her entire release plans were stripped away all at once, and the art that she worked so hard to create was brought into the world without any of the deserved control.

But the Rebel Heart tour wasn’t about that unfortunate period and left the album’s dark cloud in the past. Instead, taking a cue from the night’s big finish “Holiday”, the performance was pure celebration, with the opening images featuring a caged Madonna breaking free of the bars that hold her in order to entertain the crowd. And in a clever use of her audience’s early undivided attention, the first handful of songs were almost exclusively from her recent release, allowing her to showcase her newest material while her fans were caught up in the giant spectacle.

And much of the show was larger than life. From the interludes that showcased Rebel Heart tracks while her dancers put on acrobatic displays, to stage features that would ascend and recede as the concert demanded, the production did not skimp, right down to the cross-shaped stage extension.

But it was the evening’s moments of intimacy that really shined. Early on it was a ukulele sing-along of “True Blue”, which under the circumstances became even sweeter and more playful than the giddy original recording. Later, she would reveal it was her daughter that got her playing the uke as she sang one of her child’s favorite covers, “La vie en rose”. And an acoustic run through “Secret” found fans singing along to one of Madonna’s less heralded singles, with the pop star finishing at the end of catwalk, voicing her love for that part of the show because it wasn’t reliant on specific timing and she could go off script.

And then she did just that, offering up something special for “the City of Angels,” an unrefined and joyous rendition of “Like a Prayer” performed for the first time on the tour. There wasn’t a dance routine to support the song, just Madonna getting the audience caught up on the strength of the classic. Sure, the presentation of a pop experience is what people expect when they come to these sorts of performances, but Madonna’s music is so much more than that. Her songs are cultural touchstones, distinct musical memories, and can often completely stand on their own without the frills of lights, dancers, and choreography.

During a medley that saw “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star” bisecting the beginning and end of “Dress You Up”, fans erupted at the first hints of the Madonna classics, thankful that she still found ways to include songs within songs, giving the audience more than a typical setlist could offer. If felt like a generous nod from an artist that no longer needs to be generous. But that comes back to the prevailing tone of the show, how it felt more like a humble thank you note than a album-slanging promotional event. With fans like Katy Perry (brought on stage for a spanking during “Unapologetic Bitch”), Beyonce, and Jay Z all in attendance, the Rebel Heart tour could serve as a model of how their career can look in 20 years if they play their cards right. It’s decent work, if you can get it.

Source : ConsequenceOfSound