In the 30+ years of Madonna’s career, she has only gone on tour 9 times. The tours were: The Virgin Tour, Who’s That Girl Tour, Blonde Ambition Tour, The Girlie Show, The Drowned World Tour, The Re-Invention Tour, Confessions Tour, Sticky & Sweet Tour and MDNA Tour. She just won the award for Top Tour on the Billboard Music Awards this past week. In honor of Madonna’s latest tour coming to TV on Epix (plus a DVD later in 2013), I thought I would count down what I think are her 10 Best Live Performances:
Like a Virgin (Blonde Ambition)
Who could forget the staging on this one? Madonna in gold lame with cone bra with 2 male dancers in exaggerated cone bras too, in some sort of harem/middle Eastern setting. And ending with a simulated masturbation sequence. Great lead in for the religious segment of the show.
American Life (Re-Invention Tour)
So the album was a flop, but the tour was not. Madonna gave us a hard rock version of this song. The dancers were dressed in military fatigues, while images of war and casualties played on video screens. There were some dancers dressed as religious figures (priest, nun, etc.). Plus dramatic use of a descended walkway.
Music Inferno (Confessions Tour)
I was absolutely going crazy during this one when I saw it. Madonna in a white suit inspired by “Saturday night Fever” as well as the lighted multi-color dance floor from the movie too. Plus John Travolta’s famous choreography from his dance solo in the film too. This was an awesome number!
Sky Fits Heaven (Drowned World Tour)
One of my lesser favorite tours only because of the lack of oldies, this was one of the stand-outs for me. The number had Madonna in a geisha oufit — swinging and flying around the stage like something out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Holiday (Who’s That Girl Tour)
Pure joy! Madonna has always had love for this song, and often reworks it for her shows. Celebrating her first stadium tour, this was her most elaborate show up to that point. Madonna, her band and dancers perform a high-energy routine that has everyone on their feet.
Give Me All Your Lovin (MDNA Tour)
From her most recent tour, Madonna as drum majorette leading cheerleaders and drummers in a high-stepping, demanding routine. She worked the V-shaped stage down front, and also had drummers suspended from the ceiling too.
Into the Groove (The Virgin Tour)
She has definitely had bigger productions of this on later tours, but the simplicity of the production is part of her charm here. This was her first tour, and it was obvious she was a star. Just Madonna (with a tambourine) and 2 male singer/dancers.
Give It to Me (Sticky & Sweet Tour)
Her 2nd time doing a stadium tour in the US, this was the finale song for this tour. An amped-up version compared to the album version, the set was inspired by video games and after the 2-hour show she performed, the lyrics took on new significance (No One’s Going to Stop Me!).
Fever (The Girlie Show)
Sadly, I never got to see this tour live as the show never came to Los Angeles. It was her take on the Peggy Lee classic “Fever” with her and 2 hot scantily-clad male dancers working it for all their worth. It ended with the 3 of them surrounded by flames as they descended under the stage.
Live to Tell (Confessions Tour)
Never one to shy away from controversy, this one had Madonna hanging from a mirrored cross with a crown of thorns on her head. Behind her on the video screens showed images of poverty and destruction caused by the AIDS crisis in Africa with emphasis on all the AIDS orphans. My take on it was she was saying that we should be like Jesus and do something to help these people.
With so many great performances through out her long and varied career, it was hard to narrow it down to just 10 songs. So did I get it right? Did I leave out one of your favorites? I would love to hear from you. I am sure I will be adding to this list after future tours.
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.