Two nights to remember
As the first anniversary of the Canadian leg of the Re-Invention tour is soon approaching, our reader Davina thought she would share with the Tribe a letter that she wrote to all of her friends about her concert experience a year ago and some pictures that she took last year.
“We arrived at the Air Canada Centre and the place was already buzzing with people. There were about a dozen big red semis parked at both ends for moving all the staging and lighting equipment. People were already waiting outside and inside the lobby. Some were even jumping at the merchandise. Everywhere I turned, I saw at least one person with the black “Fanfire merchandise” bag. I had already planned from day one exactly what merchandise I wanted, but they ended up not having what I wanted!!! It was so incredibly frustrating, since I had to start from square one again. There was this one shirt that I was seriously considering. It was a black, v-neck baby-T, with Madonna’s picture from her “Like a Virgin” years on the front and the word “VIRGIN” in bold white letters on the back. It was the coolest shirt EVER, but at $75 a piece, I decided I’d take time to think about it and come back the next day for it. I did, however, get a $40 tourbook. It’s beautifully done with pictures of her recent Steven Klein shoot in it. It’s a really artistic piece. Ironically, all her fans in line for merchandise were complaining about how much of a rip off everything was yet they were still empyting their pocketbooks for the goods. Just like the tickets, which are the most expensive concert tickets TO DATE. Everyone complained about the price, but that didn’t stop ticket sales. In fact, Madonna’s extremely short tour of 4 months is set to be the HIGHEST GROSSING TOUR OF ALL TIME!!!
Prior to the concert, I was told to bring a camera, because a friend told me that when she was at the ACC an Incubus concert, security was really slack. I figured it’d be no problem, so I hid my film and digital camera in the bottom of this purse that had a flap covering it. So we started lining up an hour before doors were to open. We were about 20 people away from the front of one of the lines. I was getting nervous about making it through security, but the line seemed to be moving swiftly as soon as 7:00 pm hit. There was this nice young guy who briefly checked our bags with a flashlight, and NO PROBLEM! We were IN!! Then we got through the doors and gave the lady with the scanner our tickets. To my disbelief she informed us that they were not printed with barcodes on them. I was in complete shock. She told me that we had to go back out to the box office in the lobby and get it all sorted out. She told us that we’d have to lose our place in line. Well, you can imagine how pissed I was. So we stood in line for the box office and waited to be served. Finally, we got to an ACC representative who took FOREVER sorting everything out. You should have seen the anxiety in my face at this point. Even my mom was stressed out. Eventually, she printed out new tickets for us, but we had to wait in line AGAIN. All the other lines were extremely long, except for this one line which was suspiciously short. My mom was complaining of back problems, so I wanted her to wait as little as possible, so I picked the shortest line. We were there for AGES!!! Every other line kept moving like the Molson Indy, but we were stuck. The security guy in our line was INTENSELY HARD CORE, but I had faith in my purse with the miracle flap. When we finally got there, he asked if we had cameras on us, and I naturally said no. Then he proceeded to ask me to pull out EVERYTHING from my purse in this bossy manner. Then, to my horror, he picked up my purse from the bottom, and I KNEW IT WAS OVER. I knew he could feel it, but I tried to put on a show for as long as I could. “What’s there? No, what’s THAT there?” It was like he was a cop interrogating me for first-degree murder charges or something. When he discovered that they were cameras, he yelled, “I ASKED YOU IN THE BEGINNING IF YOU HAD ANY CAMERAS AND YOU SAID NO.” I was thinking, “Well, b*tch, if you were me, you’d do it too.” So I made these dumb a$$ comment about us being tourists and me “forgetting that I had cameras on me.” He made us check them in. Honest to God, he was terrible. Like, he wasn’t even decent about it. He was dreadful. I could have cried right then and there.
Anyways, I was raging with anger and disappointment up until the concert started @ 8:40pm, 40 mins later than the scheduled time. We were shown to our seats which were on the left top side of the lower bowl. They were great for us, because we were on the very end, which meant we didn’t have people directly in front of us blocking our view. I even had a little platform and railing to dance on!!! It was perfect in that sense. So we went intense. I brought along whistles for both me and my mom and binoculars. Before the show, people kept screaming and clapping, and I joined in like crazy!!! Finally, the background music stopped and the lights went out. EVERYBODY WENT MAD!!!
The 5 HUGE SCREENS lit up with a video montage from her Steven Klein photo shoot set to a spoken word piece called “The Beast Within” taken right from the Bible. It really built the excitement up, because it ended with the words, “Behold for I am coming soon.” AND THEN SHE CAME. That’s right. Madonna, the woman that I had first fallen in love with when I was only 3 years old, the woman that made headlines in the 90’s with her sexual scandals, the woman who pissed off the Catholic Church for her shortly-lived Pepsi commercial, the woman who set the fashion trends on fire (not to mention the crosses), the woman who gave women a voice, the woman who is dubbed as being the most famous woman of our time, the woman that I now idolize rose up on stage on a platform with only a single light shining on her. It was because of the realization that MADONNA, the real person, was actually kneeling in front of me, not as a woman on TV, but as a real human being that I BURST INTO TEARS. It wasn’t like my eyes were watering after watching some cheesy chick flick. I actually was SOBBING, sour face and all. I knew I had to pull myself together, however, because my eyes were becoming so teary that I couldn’t see what was in front of me. Seeing me cry, my mom starting crying a bit too. It was a very touching moment. One of the most memorable of my life.
I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing it live for myself. It was UNREAL. I was clapping as hard as I could. I was screaming as loud as I could. I was whistling. I was jumping. I was dancing. I was waving. I was singing. Most importantly, I was smiling the ENTIRE TIME, except for the more moving and dramatic parts of the show. I’ve never smiled so much in 2 hours time. NEVER!!! It was that GREAT!!!”
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“After seeing this show, I now can fully understand why she’s been and is being hailed by even the toughest music critics as the “most exciting/best live performer in this lifetime, if not, EVER!!!” She honestly is the greatest live performer, because she puts on a phenomenal show. I’m not saying that with bias, because she HONESTLY DOES!!!
It was everything you could ever imagine in your wildest fantasies. It was pop. It was rock, as she did strummed the crap out of her electric guitar for one song and had the most amazing guitarist with the most wicked solos ever). It was country, as she did this new-age line-dance with all her dancers in . It was gospel, as she did Like a Prayer. She got everybody standing up and clapping during this one. Her backup vocalist Sieddah Garrett did this breathtakingly powerful solo during it. It was definitely a highlight for me. It was religious and cultural, with various imagery on the screens and reflected in the costumes of the dancers. From nuns and Jesus, to Muslims, to Kabbalah, to Arabs, to Hebrew. It was rap, from Madonna to a guest performance by Missy Elliott on the giant video screens. It was Scottish, with a bagpiper accompanied by drummers perfectly in sync. It was sexually provocative with erotic, yet artisically stunning, imagery in the background as she sang Frozen. It was swing/jazz, as she sang a new version of her club hit Deeper and Deeper. It was a dance party, as she sang old favorites like Holiday. It was simply and earthy at one point when it was just her and her acoustic guitar singing from her heart. It was broadway, as parts of it made you feel like you were watching a musical rather than a concert. It was comedy, as she interacted playfully with the audience.
There was EVERYTHING from a skateboarder on a half pipe to a woman spinning around ropes of fire. There was an Egyptian dancer. There was the COOLEST tap dancer that was perfectly down with the rhythm. There were trapeze artists hanging from the ceiling for that Cirque du Soleil feel. There was an electric chair that Madonna was strapped to as she sang about her life and death from her musical film Evita. There were images of war and the children suffering from war. It was a peace rally at one point when she sang a COVER OF JOHN LENNON’S “IMAGINE.” (Everyone took out their lighters for this one and went crazy when he came up on the screens.) Everyone also went crazy as soon as the Canadian flag was displayed on the screens behind her. There was this huge catwalk that descended from above and went out about 25/30 rows into the audience. There was smoke. There was confetti sprayed everywhere at the end. There was a conveyor belt that went across the stage. There were rising platforms on the side. There was a central spinning stage that elevated and sunk the dancers and Madonna herself beneath the chaos. There were a set of stairs that lit up in multi-colours during one number. It was EVERYTHING and there was something for literally EVERYONE to enjoy.
As for Madonna, herself, she came out in a glittering corset, fishnet stockings, and knee high boots. She then turned into the military girl look as she preached about her anti-war views, with images of Bush and Saddam on the screens behind her. She then went show-girl with a flapper-esque outfit from Chanel as she teased the audience with her “Hanky Panky” song. She changed into a classy black pantsuit later on, and then adorned a kilt for the finale of the show.
In regards to the music, Madonna’s vocals have improved DRAMATICALLY over the course of her career, even since her last tour which was only in 2001. I watched her perform the same song on DVD from that tour and watched her perform it on this tour, and you can tell that she’s worked so hard to achieve the perfect sound. She’s aquired the proper breathing techniques, and as a result, her voice is stronger and more emotionally convincing. I never thought she was the greatest singer alive, and I still don’t to be honest, but she certainly is a million times more talented vocally in my books. She really sang her heart out, most of it whilst keeping up with the intensely physically demanding choreography. Oh, and the dancers couldn’t have been better. They were perfect in their craft. The musicians were dead on, and her back-ups Siedah and Donna were excellent. She couldn’t have done it without them.
This first night, Madonna told everyone that it was good to be back in Toronto (her first time in 11 years) and that she couldn’t believe that she had stayed away so long. She said that “one of the last times I was here, the police tried to arrest me,” referring to the time when the Toronto police threated to arrest her in 1990 for her simulated masturbation/orgasm scene in Like a Virgin. (Do you guys remember that? I remember hearing it on the news when I was like four…) Then she joked about being a good girl now, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t like to have fun now and then. She dedicated Crazy for You to all her fans “wherever you come from-near or far.” Surprisingly, a lot of fans came from out of the country. For example, I met this middle-aged woman in the bathroom who came from Chicago. She had the laminated VIP pass around her neck. She said that she had seen the show in Chicago with VIP passes, and came up to TO right after to see her again. I was SO HAPPY FOR HER! On the net, I’ve met people from all over the world. There’s this one guy that came all the way from Cuba to see her!!! Now that’s dedication!
Anyways, it was over before I knew it, but I was comforted in the fact that I was going to get to see it one more time. My mom and I went home SO pumped that it took us HOURS to get to sleep. I just couldn’t imagine being Madonna. She said in an interview that it takes her hours to unwind after a show, so…The next day, we went to Union station on our way to the ACC. We saw this guy and gal around my age that picked up this newspaper on the floor. I noticed that it was Madonna, so I creeped in for a closer peak. They asked me if I was going to see the concert, and I told them that I was going to see it for the second time that night. They were set to see it that night as well, so it was really cool to share a bond with a couple of strangers. We came to the ACC earlier for merchandise. Unfortunately, they SOLD OUT of the VIRGIN shirt that I was going to get, so I planned to get it online. The good news is that I got a “Madonna is my Homegirl” trucker hat!!! It was $40, but really worth it, because you can only get them at the tour venues.
THIS TIME, I was bright about my camera. I only took my digital one for convience, and I hid it in between my two pairs of underwear. Yeah, that’s right, and I got through like a breeze. Right before the show, the ENTIRE STADIUM (of like 18,000 people) started doing the wave!!! EVEN the people on top and on the floor were doing it. (The crowd the nigtht before was pretty good except for the slower sections, but they DIDN’T DO the wave. Oh, and the people up top with the nosebleed seats DID NOT stand up for the show. I later heard that there were some even on the FLOOR that weren’t getting into it.) It was so much fun and such a refreshing change to see so much enthusiasm in one room!!! This crowd was MUCH better during the show. They were louder and definitely showed their appreciation. Madonna could sense it too, as she said, “you guys are the best audience-no shit.” At one point, she layed down on the stage and said, “I’m SO tired. I didn’t sleep much last night. I didn’t think that I’d have enough energy to get through the show, but you guys have so much energy to pull me through.” She later dedicated Crazy for You to the fans and said that we inspired her from coming from all over the world. MORE people were singing along. MORE people were standing up. MORE people were clapping. MORE people were dancing. It was just such a joy to be there. Our seats were just behind the back of the floor, elevated only a few rows up and dead centre. I didn’t get the best pictures in the beginning, so I decided that I’d just get them off the net (you can get much better ones anyways) and just enjoy the experience of actually BEING IN THE MOMENT, because I wasn’t going to get to relive it again.
The most exciting part of the second show came when she walked onto the tip of the catwalk. She was about 15-20 rows away from us, and I was EXACTLY in line with her at one point. She was SO CLOSE. It was great. I even jumped up and down and waved at her, but I honestly don’t know if she saw me, thought it is possible, because not everyone in my section was standing at this point.
As for the most moving part of the show, it was when she sang “Mother and Father.” This is the song that’s nearly straight out of my life and is the reason why I feel so connected to her as a person. It’s the song about her mother dying of cancer when she was five and how she dealt with the grief alongside an emotionally absent father. During this number, pictures of her mother flashed on the screen, and it was just so great realizing that MY mother was RIGHT BESIDE ME. If it wasn’t for the miracle that I prayed for over and over again when I was only four, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take her travelling, moreover, take her to a MADONNA CONCERT. I wanted to tell Madonna that my mother was a survivor, and she was right there with me, but well…
In the end, I DID get my VIRGIN shirt online along with various other merchandise. The pink Re-Invention hoodie, keychain, poster, and handkerchief included. It cost a fortune, but it was worth it, and I WOULD MOST DEFINITELY DO IT AGAIN!!!
July 18th and 19th, 2004 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre are nights I will cherish for a lifetime and Madonna will forever be in my heart. Thank you, Madonna, for being such an inspiration!