MADONNA STILL THE BEST MADONNA SHOW IN TOWN

 

It’s been a minute or two since “Like a Virgin,” but at 57 Madonna can still be counted on to deliver the goods, getting into the groove while still pushing the cultural buttons that rocked the PTA.

Pole-dancing nuns rocking ruffled white panties and black leather bras on a song that asks Madonna’s lover “Don’t it taste like holy water?” Well, you wouldn’t expect her to lie on a Last Supper table straight outta Gomorrah and spread her legs while a dancer who may have been Jesus drops to his knees without a little foreplay, would you?

She’s been pop music’s quintessential Catholic girl gone wild since Lady Gaga was, if anything, a glimmer in her mother’s eye. And yes, it’s been a minute — maybe two — since “Like a Prayer” became a pop-cultural lightning rod on the strength of a classic taboo-tweaking video that effortlessly blurred the lines between the sacred and profane. But she still knows where all the buttons are and how to push them. In the unlikely event that the pole-dancing nuns weren’t scandalous enough? Their poles were topped by giant holy crosses.

She’s Madonna. That’s just how she rolls.

She’s 57 now, an age that may mean more in her case than it would in Joni Mitchell’s case because so much of the musical answer to “Who’s That Girl?” when it comes to Madonna has come to revolve around sex and the selling thereof, with Madonna empowering and objectifying herself in the same provocative breath and/or gyration. And you know what? She still pulls it off. Like one more article of clothing.

And the fans who turned out to pay homage to their favorite icon Thursday night in Glendale at Gila River Arena saw a show that more than lived up to her legacy. It offered all the pageantry and spectacle of prime Madonna served with throbbing dance beats, dirty dancing, countless costume changes, simulated sex acts and the same mix of the sacred and profane that got her into hot, if holy, water in her youth. The choreography was great, as were the awe-inspiring feats of acrobatics. And Madonna got into the groove with conviction while leaving the fancier dance moves and/or acrobatics to the small army of dancing boys and girls that rarely left her side. She played guitar and ukulele, too — guitar on several songs, including a rocking rendition of “Burning Up,” ukulele on two or three songs, perhaps most memorably a charming cover of the Edith Piaf classic “La Vie en Rose” sung in French.

After setting the tone for the show with the self-referential “Iconic” and “Bitch I’m Madonna,” both from this year’s “Rebel Heart,” she dipped into the catalog for “Burning Up.” But she returned immediately to her latest effort for a string of new songs that provided a musical backdrop to her onstage exploration of religious themes (as “Holy Water” turned to “Devil Pray” and a video interlude of “Messiah”).

She dropped a verse or two of “Vogue” into the midst of “Holy Water” but resisted the temptation to add “Like a Prayer,” the greatest of her greatest hits, to the religious mix. Before the set was through, she’d made her way through nearly every track on “Rebel Heart,” from “Body Shop” (set in a body shop) to “HeartBreak City” (which featured a beautiful snippet of “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore”), “Living for Love,” the title track and “Unapologetic Bitch,” for which she plucked a beefy male fan from the crowd to get on stage and leave a lot of people wondering where he may be dancing next.

It was a bold move, really, putting that much focus on her latest album. But the crowd was clearly in her corner through it all. And she did get around to a few of the songs that made her so iconic in the first place — an acoustic “True Blue,” an edgy, re-imagined “Like a Virgin” (which truly felt shiny and new), “La Isla Bonita,” an acoustic “Who’s That Girl,” “Material Girl” and a medley of “Dress You Up,” “Into the Groove” and “Lucky Star.” And she reached back to her first chart-topping dance hit, “Holiday,” for a triumphant one-song encore that ended with the singer being flown offstage like Peter Pan.

She did keep the audience waiting far too long for her to take the stage. But from the time the fancy curtain fell at 10:09 p.m. until the final notes of “Holiday” rang out a little after midnight, Madonna delivered. It helps that she has an amazing rapport with her fans, or as she called them more than once, her “bitches.” And she’s funnier than one might think (if one were in the business of dismissing her act without actually seeing it), even joking about the response to her joking. “See? You guys aren’t laughing at my jokes,” she said at one point, “and I’m starting to feel low self-esteem again.”

And as hard as it is to imagine the same Madonna who opened the show with “Iconic” and “Bitch I’m Madonna” struggling with her self-esteem, by the end of the night, she somehow felt more human. In a good way.
Source : AzCentral

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