The age-old lament that the big-name touring acts of the music industry again and again feel the need to pass Nashville doesn’t hold true the way it used to. Madonna is finally playing Nashville. Take a deep breath, y’all. Back in 1991 — when Alek Keshishian’s shockumentary Madonna: Truth or Dare played for a packed house at The Belcourt and dominated conversations at The World’s End — if you had said, “Madonna will play Nashville, you know,” everyone would have thought you a poor, deluded fool. 1991 Nashville simply couldn’t withstand all that gyrating and religious sublimation on a proper stage.
Nowadays, if you want to know the multiple facets of someone’s erotic identity, look no further than their Tumblr and it’s all right there. In 1992, Madonna wrote a coffee table book — Sex — about her sexual fantasies, recruiting top-notch talent from the worlds of photography and pornography and making the entire effort into a bestseller. Should any millennials find themselves looking for an easy conversation-derailer, ask your parents what they thought of Madonna’s Sex book. Then run.
The world of music and entertainment is such a different place in 2016. Physical media has shifted back around to the vinyl LP end of the continuum, life happens on the Internet, radio is a fragmented mess, and the myriad of artists who’ve come up using the lessons in the Madonna playbook find themselves experiencing the game of fame at a hyper-accelerated rate. The monoculture of the past has been shattered, and to see what happens to one of the greats who hasn’t a clue how to make things work with today’s tech, just look at Prince.
So before you let any residual Madonnanomie surface with a saucy quip, let’s just enjoy this cultural milestone. Of course it would have made sense, perhaps, for Madge to have de-virginized Music City on her 2001 Drowned World Tour, with its featured country-and-Western segment (think Robert’s Western World remixed by David LaChapelle). Of that tour’s 28 North American dates, only six were in red states, in blue markets like Las Vegas, Atlanta and South Florida. And those were fucked-up times across the board. In 2003, the industry’s shunning of the Dixie Chicks actually intimidated La M into shelving her “American Life” video, and Middle American markets would have to keep waiting for the icon to hit town.
Now, nearly a decade-and-a-half later, MTV is a useless network that still somehow is allowed to hold awards in the field of music video, despite having not played any in years, and even the most fanciful of those ’90s Nastyville party people would be flabbergasted at the changes in the city since then. But Madonna endures.
As one of the industry’s top-grossing touring acts, Madonna’s maintained relevance as a legacy artist, one who still packs arenas and stadiums all over the world. After 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, her albums lost a bit of the consistency she’d delivered for over 20 years. But even the iffiest of her albums always had at least one or two killer tracks. With last year’s gloriously sprawling Rebel Heart, that consistency had returned, and beautifully.
Madonna stepped up her game with 1990’s Blond Ambition World Tour, making the arena concert into a whole new medium, encompassing theater, dance, pagan ritual and vaudeville at its brassiest, setting a template that’s served her well as a living legend. That’s how you’d get the sci-fi cathedrals of that tour, The Girlie Show World Tour’s disco riff on pre-Revolutionary France, and the anime freakouts and pre-problematic blaxploitation chic of the Drowned outing.
We can’t just talk one-on-one with Madonna about film or art, so we might as well let her do an elaborate presentation and play some songs as well. This isn’t like Taylor Swift’s 1989 Tour squad parade, where the message is that being friends is cool and possible — when Madonna plays, it’s an interactive lecture with a merciful absence of false hope. The Rebel Heart Tour has nuns, medieval tableaux, flamenco realness, staircase power dynamics and Mad Max: Fury Road-style pole antics. There is simply no other equivalent. So get your disco pants and some condoms, and gear up for the debauched and delirious throw-down this city’s sweaty parts have eagerly waited decades for.
Source : Nashville Scene