MELBOURNE waited 23 years and 45 minutes for Madonna to return to the big stage
She was surprisingly punctual for her sold-out Rod Laver Arena show last night, after being four hours late for her one-off Forum show on Thursday.
That night was a rehearsal of a looser style of show, including her stand-up comedy. Last night we saw classic Madonna in full pop extravaganza mode.
And remember — that’s a genre she helped to create. Most pop concerts now follow her blueprint.
Madonna told the audience: “Thank you for your patience, you’ve waited over 20 years. What the f*** is wrong with me?”
She also apologised for the rough Tears of A Clown show, saying “I only had two days to rehearse — I’m gonna do it better next time, I promise.”
Madonna got back into clown mode briefly, riding a tiny bike, honking a horn and pulling out a hip flask.
The singer offered Molly Meldrum, who was in the front row, a swig, thanking him for “being the first man in Australia to fall in love with me.”
She dedicated Take a Bow to Meldrum saying “you’re the best” before the crowd started chanting “Molly! Molly!”
A big fan of the F word, Madonna tried and failed to pronounce Melbourne correctly and asked if she could stick to “Mel-born”.
The singer also joked about a possible return of her stand up set “next month — next month in 2019”.
At 57, Madonna is forging new territory in pop music — still touring regularly and still at the top of her game.
There’s no denying these are expensive tickets (over $500 for the best seats, before you get into VIP pricing), but productions at this level don’t travel the world cheaply.
Madonna has never been a greatest hits artist. There are actually more hits than usual in her Rebel Heart set (some annoyingly chopped up into medleys), but if you want wall-to-wall `80s or `90s hits, you have the wrong artist
There are still plenty of classic Madonna hits — Burning Up is back as you remember it from 1983, just with Madonna on wailing electric guitar — and Like a Virgin, La Isla Bonita, Material Girl, Holiday and Deeper and Deeper are all major moments.
And as far as classic Madonna themes, how about nuns in lingerie pole dancing on crucifixes for Holy Water and Madonna doing some pole-vogueing for a quick snatch of Vogue?
There’s also a re-enactment of the Last Supper where Madonna sings Devil Pray with her arms bound.
Devil Pray along with fellow new tunes Rebel Heart and Living For Love demonstrate that Madonna still knows how to make powerful pop music, even if radio stations have put her out to pasture.
Her cover of Love Don’t Live Here Anymore was a vocal highlight while the Tears of a Clown show seemed to have inspired Madonna to go off script, including chatty interludes and a few bawdy jokes.
Sadly that meant she dropped Dress You Up and Who’s That Girl, throwing in Take a Bow and a bit of Send in the Clowns.
She dedicated her cover of La Vie En Rose, which she played on ukulele to aspiring singer and audience member Jake Dennis not her son Rocco, as she did in New Zealand last week.
International Australian drag star Courtney Act was Madonna’s Unapologetic B**ch for Melbourne, with the singer seemingly not realising who Act was.
Sure, you could pick a dozen Madonna classic hits you’d rather hear than Body Shop or Unapologetic B**ch, but Madonna has always done everything the way she wants.
It’s that single-minded determination that may alienate some people and keeps her diehard fans on board. It’s also the reason she’s the most successful and enduring pop star of her generation.
The show ended with Madonna draped in the Australian flag singing Holiday.
Madonna plays Rod Laver Arena again tonight before shows in Brisbane and Sydney.