Madonna’s fans get a sugar-coated spectacle of fun
Ok, we give. U-u-uncllle! We’re entertained! We’re entertained! Madonna, you’re the bomb.
Now, what the heck was that all about?
We’ve seen theatrical concerts before – from awesome (the Rolling Stones and Cher) to awful (Britney Spears) – but Madonna, on the Re-invention Tour, seems determined to top them all in sheer spectacle even if the 105-minute extravaganza doesn’t cohere into a clear theme. The 45-year-old pop icon even sang live (quite well, too) while on the move. Please note that these are two simultaneous actions that, sadly, don’t go hand-in-hand these days among younger pop stars.
The tour – boasting 21 songs, from 1982’s Burning Up, reimagined as a new wave rocker, to 2003’s sublime ballad Nothing Fails – is one of the few moneymakers in a sorry summer season, and it opened in South Florida Wednesday night at Sunrise’s Office Depot Center. She has three shows to go – tonight in Sunrise and Sunday and Monday at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.
It’s a feat of technical derring-do. Madonna managed to fill her ample stage with a skateboarder, a tap dancer, a trapeze troupe and sermons on Kabbalah and the Iraq war (Bush is bad, we get it.)
Want more? Try military drills with Madonna clad as a Patty Hearst-like figure in camouflage fatigues for Express Yourself. Videos flashing images of war and a goofy President Bush look-alike cuddling with a Sadaam Hussein character; and gorgeous video screens masquerading as art installations. Broadway and Cirque du Soleil? Consider yourselves beaten into submission.
Like Madonna’s embarrassing rap in American Life, none of it makes much sense. But like a massive ice-cream sundae with whipped cream, nuts, chocolate and caramel sauces, and a cherry atop, the Re-invention Tour is the ultimate guilty pleasure but it’s also a load of empty calories.
Fun? You bet, most of the time. Madonna has an enviable body of pop hits spread over 20 years, and, for a change, she performed a good number of them as opposed to 2001’s pretentious Drowned World Tour. But she obviously didn’t think fans who paid $300 for a top ticket would be happy just to hear oldies like Material Girl – smartly reinvented with a rock guitar edge – Vogue or Like a Prayer unless they got a show.
As pop music, this was great stuff. Unfortunately, Madonna, the dominatrix of reinvention, has always been suspect when she gets into a groove about her cause du jour. The Kabbalah imagery was overbearing. Madonna don’t preach!
Her anti-war clips also trivialized the issue and felt about a year too late. At the time of the Iraq invasion, Madonna pulled her anti-Bush American Life video after seeing what happened to the Dixie Chicks who found their records yanked off the air after the country trio’s lead singer criticized the commander in chief.
Now that Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is a box-office smash and support for the war is wavering, Madonna goes whole-hog political on stage. Madonna, a mother of two, is no longer Madonna the brave.
Article by Howard Cohen, The Miami Herald