Views on pop culture through my eyes

Madonna: Still Wowing Us

Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Staples Center

MDNA Tour 2012

Special guest: Martin Solveig

Songs performed: Gregorian Chant Virgin Mary Intro, Girl Gone Wild, Revolver, Gang Bang, Papa Don’t Preach, Hung Up, I Don’t Give A, Best Friend/Heartbeat 
(interlude), Express Yourself/Born This Way/She’s Not Me, Give Me All Your Luvin’, Turning Up the Hits 
(interlude), Turn Up the Radio, Open Your Heart, Holiday, Masterpiece, Justify My Love (interlude), Vogue, Candy Shop/Erotica, Human Nature, Like a Virgin, Love Spent, Nobody Knows Me 
(interlude), I’m Addicted, I’m a Sinner, Like a Prayer, Celebration

Comments: Madonna brought her 9th tour, in support of her 12th studio album “MDNA”, to Staples Center last night for a 2-night engagement on a world tour.  Madonna’s shows are much more than a  typical rock concert. They engage, confront and entertain you as the night goes on. The different segments of the show are Transgression, Prophecy, Masculine/Feminine and Celebration.Madonna MDNA Tour

Thirty years into her career, Madonna shows no signs of slowing down or playing to the masses. She is a superstar and the queen of pop. She definitely gives her fans a big bang for their bucks. You will be wowed/enthralled by one of the consummate entertainers of our generation.

Starting late at 10:15 PM, the lights finally went down and the show began.  From where I was sitting, you could see Madonna walking up to the stage from the back of the arena.  Monks came out and started ringing a bell. Then a giant incense burner was raised and swung out over the crowd. Three men dressed as high priests were raised up on stage and began chanting. Madonna’s voice intro from “Girl Gone Wild” was played, leading into the song itself. She was shown in silhouette, and then she broke the glass she was behind with a  rifle , and marched out in a black suit. As the song kicked into high gear, the monks began to show more skin revealing chiseled male dancers, in tights and high heels like in the video.

The stage was expertly designed. The band was on the sides, and large video screens were at the back of the stage. The catwalk at the front looked like a big triangle with a hole in the middle for fans who paid for VIP access. In the main part of the stage, there were 32 squares of approx. 4 ft x 4 ft. Each square could raise and lower on its own, creating dynamic shapes and dramatic movements through out the show. There was also an elevated platform at the peak of the triangle… as well as 5 stairs on each side going up when walking back to the main stage.

Since the last tour, Madonna has release a new Greatest Hits collection “Celebration” as well as her latest studio album “MDNA” and her movie ‘W.E.” which she directed.

For “Revolver”, one of the 2 new songs on the Greatest Hits, she was seen working the front walkway with a group of bandana-masked female criminals, all carrying weapons. Video of Lil Wayne was shown as he did the rap on the original song. Madonna licked the barrel of her gun on a few occasions. Next up was “Gang Bang” with Madonna shown laying on a bed in a cheap motel. Various intruders and bad guys kept trying to get her, and she “shot them dead” as the song played, resulting in some pretty graphic visual depictions of blood splaying across the walls.

“Papa Don’t Preach” was the first of the oldies for the night, followed by “Hung Up” which had Madonna shackled to a pole and carried away by her dancers. This segment had the first use of slacklining — similar to tight rope walking except on wider, elastic rubber bands of sorts. Madonna brings out her guitar for “I Don’t Give A” and sings at the tip of the triangle, while Nicki Minaj is shown on the video. I love the ending with Nicki saying “There’s only one queen and that’s Madonna” leading into a chant with the Kalakan Trio leading Madonna off the stage for a costume change.

A dance interlude provided Madonna time to change for the next segment. Here Madonna was the drum majorette (in red and white) twirling her baton to another of her greatest hits “Express Yourself”. The females were dressed as cheerleaders, and the guys as drummers. There were even a number of drummers suspended from the rigging too. Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way” was worked into the song, as well as Madonna saying ‘She’s Not Me” referring to their so-called feud over similar songs. The song morphed into “Give Me All Your Lovin” and continued the high energy vibe. These two together created one big production number, it was one of the highlights for me. The dancing was awesome during this segment.

Snippets of previous Madonna classics were played to indicate a radio being turned across the dial. She came out playing another new song “Turn up the Radio” which used the levels on the stage to highlight some of the musicians. The next number brought the official introduction of the Kalakan Trio — 3 talented singers/percussionists who had been featured on a few numbers already. They played a stripped down version of “Open Your Heart” with Madonna and the dancers all dressed like they came from a French café, complete with berets. The dancing again, was so fantastic with the solos and such from the dance troupe. And the song sounded great in the stripped down version.

Madonna took a break from singing to talk to the crowd about how lucky we are to live in America. The freedoms we have, and the ability to be our own persons. She mentioned about the gays being arrested in Russia and a Pakinstani girl being shot for writing about the importance of education. She urged us all to vote, to make sure we register, and let our voices be heard.

“Holiday” (a bit of a shortened version) and “Masterpiece” her Golden Globe winning song from her movie “W.E.” were next. Scenes from the movie played behind the stage while Madonna was up front strumming her guitar.

“Vogue” brought back Madonna in a new version of her famous cone bra, this outfit looking more like an outer cage around her body. All the dancers were dressed in high fashion black and white costumes. “Candy Shop” from the album “Hard Candy” was definitely a surprise choice for the night, considering she performed it on the last tour and that it was never a single. Madonna was in male drag, white shirt with tie and was interacting with women dressed in lingerie.

“Human Nature” was staged with full-size mirrors, and hands and arms of the dancers sticking out from around the sides, mimicking Madonna’s dancing. The message of this song is still relevant today as people would love to silence those who support marriage equality or women’s rights.

“Live a Virgin” was delivered as a ballad in a stripped down version (both figuratively and literally). Madonna  stripped off parts of her corset, revealing her bra, she also dropped her pants revealing her fit and toned ass in a thong with fishnet stockings on (Pretty great for a 54-year old mom of 4). She was accompanied by a pianist in a top hat. “Love Spent” brought out a sexy dancer with her to tangle with, who put a new corset on her.

During the video for “Nobody Knows Me”, she displayed the names of gay teens who killed themselves, as well as images of social justice issues and politics.

“I’m Addicted” another high-energy dance song from “MDNA” had her dancing in a sort of sci-fi inspired getup with her group of dancers. “I’m a Sinner” had a bit of a 60’s vibe, with the costumes fitting since the tune seems inspired by that era.

Crowd pleasing “Like a Prayer” has proven to be one of her most enduring hits, backed by a choir as well as her dancers as part of the big group on the middle of the stage. “Celebration” the 2nd of the new songs from the Greatest Hits collection, made a fitting closing song for the evening. The stage was going up and down with people on it and at times was made to look like turn tables. Her son Rocco even joined in the fun as one of the dancers.

This was my 7th time seeing Madonna in concert, and I am constantly amazed at the productions she puts together. This is definitely the show of the year.

Opening act was Martin Solveig, a producer/DJ who worked with Madonna on the “MDNA” album. He also worked into his set songs from Adele, Michael Jackson and Calvin Harris. Madonna’s son David came on stage and helped out too. Martin even sings a little also on his own songs.

Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. The eBook, A View from the Cheap Seats,  can be downloaded from LuluAmazon and the iBookstore. It can be read on any computer, smartphone, or tablet.


Comments on: "Madonna: Still Wowing Us" (2)

  1. Marcelo Castilho Rogedo said:

    Hi Daniel. Certainly Madonna has made her life a history. Even if the person says “I hate Madonna, I hate her kind of music”…definetely we know that Madonna is history. She already is an icon and an important person of the entertainment. This time I won’t watch Madonna live.My twin sister did and she enjoyed the show. I told her to buy the album, so as to know the brand new songs. I dont know if she did it. Well, it is good to see that so many 1980’s songs were performed. Of course it is a reflect of her Celebration album too. But it is so good, in my opinion to see her performing old hits. I wonder wish city she is going to choose to record the live version that will become the DVD….So, you are always writing great articles and this one was amazing. Take care.

  2. […] Music From concert reviews (Madonna, J Lo, Lady Gaga and more) to lists of hunks in country and pop music, to favorite Christmas albums […]

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