I would never have called myself a Madonna fan, but when her tour was announced last year I knew I wanted to see her. I loved her when she first hit the scene in the early 80s, my sister and I dancing along with her on Countdown, we liked Holiday but loved Lucky Star. My sister grew into the fan and I appreciated her music, especially that first album. I loved her sass and uniqueness in a male oriented world of music. She really was a feminist icon back then, despite what our parents may have thought.
I followed her career, loving her Dick Tracy soundtrack and falling in love with her Bedtime Stories album, and was totally blown away by Ray of Light. I enjoyed her follow up, Music, but pretty much after that I felt her head went somewhere up her butt and she became too painful. In retrospect, for an iconoclast, how awful must it be to try and continually better yourself when younger women are coming and possibly doing it better. Sometimes I feel for Madonna, sometimes I want to smack her.
And so I purchased tickets for myself and my two sisters, even though we would have done better to have seen her years earlier when she was in her peak.
This week that day came...Madonna Day...bitches!
Prior to this we had not heard good reviews, breakdowns, drinking on stage, and later and later starts which pissed a lot of people off.
I headed to Sydney with zero expectations, I figured it would be a mega late start, she would probably be miming most of it, her voice wasn’t that great anyway, and she would probably sing most of the newer songs I really didn’t know, but it should look visually good.
We popped the best of disc into the car stereo and sang along, fully aware that she may not sing any of them.
Our road trip commenced at lunch with another friend hitching a ride, we shopped, had an early dinner, and then headed to Olympic Park to get a car park. This got us into the centre around 7.30/8.00 and we headed to our seats just after 9pm. We knew that when we heard Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Starting Something, she’d be on next.
Just on 10am, that song played and the crowd went wild.
The centre darkened and the music started with her dancers and backing crew coming to the stage and after a short while Madonna herself arriving in a cage that was lowered on to the stage! And straight into Iconic from Rebel Heart, followed by Bitch, I’m Madonna, then Burning Up – totally unexpected. There were four different sets and this first one was called Joan of Arc/Samurai.
In between sets a tape played with a Madonna song while her back up dancers and acrobats did mind bending things on stage, this presumably was to assist with complex costume changes and it really worked. By the second set I knew this was going to be absolutely amazing and I felt ashamed to have doubted this very capable woman, who I used to think was an iconoclast...maybe she still was!?
Each set featured songs from her Rebel Heart album, which I had listened to only a couple of times, but it obviously had more impact on me than I initially thought as they all sounded pretty familiar to me!
The second set was Rockabilly Meets Tokyo and included a sweet acoustic version of True Blue – this was when I realised she was more than iconoclast! She sounded terrific, no miming or auto-tune here. She also gave a great performance of Deeper and Deeper, and an outstandingly powerful snippet of Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (I forgot she had even covered that way back in the day) and ended with Like A Virgin. The crowd went wild!
The third set was a Latin/Gypsy one, which was superb. La Isla Bonita, and a fab little mix of Dress You Up, Into The Groove, and Lucky Star. Then Take A Bow before absolutely killing Like a Prayer. Oh Madonna, I am sorry for ever doubting you. She ended this very tight set with Rebel Heart.
Throughout she interacted with the crowd, she had this mantra of Fuck Fuck Fuck Yeah that she asked the audience to help her with, now I love the word Fuck but I felt this just felt a little forced, the only bum note of the night. Also her American accent changed as she spoke, often a southern accent, which I have never recalled hearing before. But look, that is just being really picky. She was honest and funny and interesting and real. She addressed a whole lot of the ‘issues’ the press had made and you actually felt sorry for her. The media always takes stuff out of proportion, we should know better. Yes, she is the mistress of spin, but she is still human. She doesn’t really drink on tour – I buy that totally, how anyone her age could do what she does with the conviction and energy she has, well it would be impossible and as she said, I’m a working Mum, I miss my kids, so sue me! I remembered the early sass and take no prisoners Madonna I loved and saw that shine through and it made me smile. Still, some of the banter was too much, ahh shut up and sing!!!
The final set, Party/Flapper came up and I was grinning ear to ear. This was by far the most exquisite and stunning to watch and included the best songs. The set was very Gatsby and stylish and her costumes sublime. It featured Music, Candy Shop, and Material Girl – all fabulous. She also did the most amazing version of Le Vie En Rose, just her and a ukulele, she actually brought me to tears she was that good. This was followed by a lovely snipper of Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend. She ended the set with Unapologetic Bitch and pulled Gwendoline Christie up on to the stage. I immediately recognised her, she is very very tall, but doubted myself as I had no idea she was in the country. But yes, it was her and there was some sassy back and forth.
The show ended with Holiday and it was spectacular. It was now around 12.45am. She had played for almost 3 hours. I was beyond impressed.
Standouts for me were Like A Prayer, La Vie En Rose, and the Dress You Up/Into the Groove/Lucky Star songs.
I do think we were lucky when you match this against other performances but in all I am glad we went and saw this amazing woman!
Joan of Arc/Samurai
Taped intro: Revolution
2. Bitch, I’m Madonna
3. Burning Up
4. Holy Water (and Vogue)
5. Devil Pray
Rockabilly Meets Tokyo
Taped intro: Messiah
6. Body Shop
7. True Blue
8. Deeper and Deeper
9. HeartBreakCity (and Love Don’t Live Here Anymore)
10. Like a Virgin
Taped intro: S.E.X.
11. Living for LOve
12. La Isla Bonita
13. Dress You Up (and Into The Groove and Lucky Star)
14. Take a Bow
15. Like a Prayer
16. Rebel Heart
Taped intro: Illuminati
18. Candy Shop
19. Material Girl
20. La Vie En Rose
21. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend
22. Unapologetic Bitch