Madonna pulls in a massive crowd at Hyde Park; rave reviews
Madonna delivers everything fans want (except full-on moral outrage)
After flashing a breast in Istanbul and facing legal action in France, Madonna brought her highly anticipated MDNA tour to the UK last night with a gig in London's Hyde Park.
The singer, 53, is no stranger to controversy, having once been arrested after a sexually-explicit performance in Canada and raising moral outrage with almost every video she releases, whether she's smoking or simply trying to cop off with Jesus.
Last night's show was not lacking in punch, kicking off with the internet smut-referencing "Girl Gone Wild", the first of several in-your-face, gun-toting numbers from the album she released earlier this year. (Sample refrain: "See you in hell, bitch".)
While the most loyal fans in the crowd thrilled to Madonna's newly bolshy electro style, the audience for the main part came alive for some of the older hits. "Papa Don't Preach", "Express Yourself" (mixed in with a rather similar-sounding "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga) and a ballad version of "Like a Virgin" were just some of the Immaculate Collection-era standards that elicited the most enthusiasm – which Madonna followers have by the bucketload.
As a performer, Madonna doesn't need flashing lights and heavy set-pieces but she does them all the same. And why not? A batch of claret-clad monks kicked off procedures and what followed was suitably sacrilegious, as she emerged from a confessional booth with a machine gun. Between shooting her lover in a seedy motel, fronting a marching band and being chained up by pseudo-terrorists, Madonna gave the crowd just what they wanted, and her reliance on Auto-Tune during the more energetic numbers didn't even matter.
During a pared down rendition of "Open Your Heart", her 11-year-old son Rocco even joined her on stage, while an energetic performance of "Vogue", replete with several drag queens, was proof of her musical majesty. If Madonna has one message, regardless of whichever genre she has transmogrified into, it is of inclusion and unity.
"You don't want to take anyone's sh*t, do you?" she exhorted during a break, before launching into "Masterpiece", her Oscar-winning song from the recent film W.E. It was a moving spectacle and a sombre point, spoiled only slightly by her solemn cry of "We love you, Poland."
The interludes and montages between costume changes only served to back up Madonna's fearsome reputation as a recording artist. Whether she chooses to indulge in primal and rather hackneyed iconography or not, nothing can subtract from that. Seeing Madonna live is a privilege, whether or not she keeps her clothes on or knows which country she is in.
No one pulled the plug on Madonna at Hyde Park. Well, Who would dare? Judging by the content of this show, she might garrotte, kick, shoot or whip any antagonist, then make a sanctimonious speech about world peace over their broken and bleeding body.
It was a typically sensationalist and schizophrenic Madonna production, mixing sex, ultra violence, religion, kitsch and politics to bizarre but entertaining effect.
It has been an interesting week of Hyde Park concerts, with big guns all impressing in very different ways. Springsteen did it with charisma, emotional content and dynamic rock power. Paul Simon did it with subtlety, detail and complex musical interplay. Madonna did it with lights, dancers, giant video screens, hydraulics, costume changes, flying drummers, tightrope walking, cheerleaders, a basque folk trio ... And music too.
I have criticised Madonna in the past for an over reliance on backing tracks and backing singers to fill in the vocal gaps while she's doing her yoga moves. But amidst the autotuned super choreographed dance productions, the real highlight of this show was a stripped back version of Like A Virgin, performed to piano and violin in the style of Brechtian cabaret. Fragile and intense, it openly embraced the ever present subtext of her age, displaying a sexual vulnerability that was far more resonant and effective than her brief stint as a superannuated cheerleader during Gimme All Ure Luvvin. I honestly did not suspect she had that performance in her. It suggests that she might actually have somewhere creative to go as her pop appeal wanes.
Her latest album, MDNA, has been a bit of a flop, in large part I suspect because she's trying too hard to keep up with the kids. Live she plays to different strengths, emphasising her showomanship with enough drama and spectacle to cover up the gap in class between her classic hits and rather more feeble recent stabs at electropop. The opening section is actually quite unpleasantly aggressive, particularly the blood spatter and multiple murders set piece for Gang Bang, although its hard to deny that aggression suits her. Madonna stomps around the set in black leather like an aging dominatrix, which is hard to equate with the love in at the end, with monks, Bhuddists and gospel singers joining in a happy clappy version of Like A Prayer.
But Madonna makes no attempt at consistency. Perhaps that's part of her genius, everything and anything goes. During Express Yourself, she even threw in a few bars of Lady GaGa's 'Born This Way', then danced around singing "She's not me, she's not me." For sheer wacky mass pop entertainment, Madonna proved herself more than equal to the challenge of all her young pretenders.
OVER the last few weeks I’ve dished out a bit of abuse to Madonna.
We even knitted her a jumper to cover her up. But last night it was hard to criticise how good she looked on stage.
So apologies, Madge. I take the knitwear back — you are quite a woman.
The Queen Of Pop kicked off her UK dates with all guns blazing in London’s Hyde Park.
In a see-through bra and sexy, Lara Croft-style outfit with leather boots, the 53-year-old had the crowd in her sights — wielding a pistol and an assault rifle — and showing off dance routines more complicated than a Rubik’s Cube.
There were none of the boob flashes seen in recent gigs on her MDNA world tour, but things turned filthier after a costume change for Express Yourself.
Madge stripped to her bra and thong at the front of the stage, revealing a huge No Fear written on her back.
A section of the show ran through her 30-year career and got a huge cheer.
Then Madge announced: “Smashing prejudices, smashing discriminations, smashing judgment and any kind of pain, hatred and chaos we are all one, we are all united,” before the crowd went wild for an acoustic version of Like A Virgin.
A finale of Like A Prayer and MDNA went down well and son Rocco got a big cheer for dancing with his mum, even though it was way past his bedtime.
After the show Madge — whose London pad is nearby — was last seen cycling out of Hyde Park with her bodyguards following in cars.
So it looks like she’d have been tucked up in bed long before most of her fans had managed to get out of the venue.
A pistol-packing Madonna sees off the young pretenders with her action-packed MDNA gig at Hyde Park
Her current world tour has so far been noteworthy for the controversy she has whipped up in various European cities.
She flashed her right breast in Istanbul, the left one in Paris, and, when in Rome, even lowered her trousers to bare her backside.
So it was no surprise that Madonna was up to some of her old tricks again last night as she began the UK leg of her MDNA tour in Hyde Park.
But while the 53-year-old singer gave fans another brief but wholly gratuitous glimpse of her derriere during the song Human Nature, she did at least put the onus back on her music with a spectacularly accomplished open-air show.
Unlike Bruce Springsteen at the weekend, she also finished her set before any local council curfew and thus avoided having any plugs unceremoniously pulled.
The Queen of Pop’s latest album, also titled MDNA, provided the bedrock for a two-hour show that sent out a powerful message to any young pretenders eyeing up her crown.
That album reiterated her credentials as a dancing queen, and the singer got immediately into the groove as she opened the show with the shuddering electronics of Girl Gone Wild.
And while the Material Woman went on to sing another seven of her newer songs, she found space for classics such as Papa Don’t Preach, although other treasured oldies such as Holiday were seen only as brief video interludes.
Unlike some of last weekend’s open-air events, there was no mud, and only the odd rain shower, to spoil a fine evening. In fact, the biggest problem facing Madonna when she came on-stage was a blustery summer breeze.
Despite the energetic dance rhythms, however, the overall mood of the show was at first dark and serious, with storm clouds projected onto a large screen.
Gang Bang, another new song, was accompanied by a murder routine straight from a Quentin Tarantino movie. But the mood soon lightened.
Papa Don’t Preach had fans singing along, although I Don’t Give A, a song supposedly about former husband Guy Ritchie, could have done without Madonna’s limited guitar playing skills.
Express Yourself and Give Me All Your Luvin’ were excellent, however, enlivened by a colourful cheerleader routine that reiterated Madonna’s ability to make a big, festival-style show work as well as any rock band.
There were moments when the energy levels sagged. Like A Virgin, a signature dance tune, didn’t really work as a slow piano waltz and some fans might have found the amount of newish material hard to digest. For them, a high-octane encore of Like A Prayer and Celebration will have been welcome.
But, her desire to shock aside, Madonna didn’t become the most inventive female pop star of her generation by turning herself into a human jukebox recycling old hits. And, on this showing, she remains one of the greats.
The tour continues with dates in Birmingham on Thursday and Edinburgh on Saturday.
I think it's insensitive that this was posted posted as soon as the Australian fans heard their unfortunate news.
I'm learning lessons to make mistakes
. . .If I get burned, no embers break.
You told me I'm my destiny
. . . While your power gets the best of me..
Repeatedly, I get neglected.
. . .You claim that I am unperfected..
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