Madonna again creates quite the spectacle
Esther. Madge. Vogue. Kabbalah. Catholicism.
It didn’t matter what name she had chosen for herself or what dance craze or religious affiliation she would highlight. When Madonna sold out the first of two nights at the Wachovia Center on Sunday – Fourth of July – it was meant to be bigger than big and better than Britney.
Bigger and better than the Onyx Hotel tour?
Yes. Easily transcending Ms. (or Mrs.?) Spears, Mrs. Guy Ritchie was the centerpiece of a wide, extravagant video-and-stage-and-costume production of which she was the wriggling, kicking, arching, live-singing centerpiece.
Forget the fire twirlers, the tap dancers, and the kilted bagpipers on conveyor belts: Madonna was bigger.
Whether entering through a center-stage riser in a hand-standing yoga position (a syncopated “Vogue” with its frenzied video in the background) or cat-walking with her cast of exotic sheikhs and nuns through military calisthenics (a schizophrenic “American Life” and its heavy-handed footage of firestorms and President Bush and Saddam Hussein impersonators), Madonna was never dwarfed.
Though her vocals were occasionally voice-processed, no one doubted that Madonna’s voice was live – taking on choppy, trash-metal versions of “Burning Up” and “Material Girl,” the gauzy romantic folk of “Don’t Tell Me” (all with Maddie on guitar), and the sad, mad “Lament” – with passion and serpentine sensuality. That she conveyed dramatic clarity on the latter, while strapped to a strobe-lit electric chair, was delicious.
Sometimes her visuals were a tad overstated. The aggressive display of religious iconography and the UNICEF-like video accompanying her awkward take on John Lennon’s “Imagine” were inelegant. Sometimes, the staging – Cirque du Soleil-esque bits, skateboarders, lounge moments – was below the majesty of her Re-Invention tour. But those are overused elements that concertgoers are used to.
What was best was hearing and seeing Madonna – with visuals as merely an adornment – verbally toy with her tunes like a kitten with string: the Kraftwerkian self-help manual of “Nobody Knows Me,” the synth-windswept balladry of “Frozen,” even her jousting with bagpipers throughout the shuffling electro of “Into the Groove” and “Papa Don’t Preach.” It all sounded and looked better and grander than the fireworks outside.
Article by A.D. Amorosi, The Inquirer