Madonna rocks the crowd at the Office Depot Center
Madonna has spent the past 20 years looking at herself for a living. That she still likes what she sees, professionally speaking, is remarkable, since few among us don’t occasionally tire of the face staring back in the mirror. Narcissism has been very good to Madonna, and she to it.
The “Re-Invention Tour” that brought her to a sold-out Office Depot Center on Wednesday night offered clues as to how Madonna stays fascinated and in the process keeps the rest of us entranced.
The trick appears to be to keep everything changing, everything in constant motion. The Re-Invention stage production did exactly that, balancing and juggling numerous visual and acoustical elements, as Madonna rolled out a battery of selves.
“I’ve had so many lives,” she sang on the dance-floor track Nobody Knows Me, her voice a filtered, robotic ripple. She would spend the 90-minute, 24-song set revisiting several of those lives. With a band and multiple dancers, Madonna posed and juxtaposed her way through history — hers.
After a fully re-mixed version of her old stand-by, Vogue, and a less-altered take on the graceful ballad Frozen, she expanded on the anti-war chic of her recent single and video, American Life. Pvt. Madonna stepped out in Army fatigues with a chorus of dancers dressed as troops, a sheik, a nun, an Afghan woman in a racy mini-burka. Footage of wartime death and wounding flashed across the screen in a way that made the line between principled opposition and showbiz exploitation hard to divine.
That number handed off to the more durable single, Express Yourself, which became one of the show’s most witty and entertaining collisions of multiple Madonnas. She stayed in the fatigues, doing rifle drills, while the band gave the song a compressed, techno workout, and the war footage turned to military cartoon graphics. It could almost have passed for a U.S.O. routine, except for not-so-veiled dig at war as self-expression.
Vocally, Madonna was in fine, flexible form, able to summon the excitement in Burning Up, the vampy humor of Hanky Panky – a Bette Midler moment if ever Madonna had one – and the pleading affection of Like a Prayer. Her interaction with the production was never anything less than confident and assured – although the Moulin-Rouge-dressing-room getup in which she opened the show looked a bit scruffy against a sharp, sleek video tableau.
The choreography, both of dancers and of projected visuals, was energizing and erotic in a playfully grown-up way that would never occur to Britney Spears.
If Madonna, reinvented, has also evolved, it would be from a champion of sex to an advocate for love. Songs from the newer albums Ray of Light, Music and American Life speak often of love’s saving power, and to the extent they deal in sex it’s as an expression of love.
As if to herald this progress, Madonna covered John Lennon’s Imagine near the end of the evening. No doubt she is already imagining the next version of herself.
Article by Sean Piccoli, Sun Sentinel