Anticipating Madonna back to the Valley
21 years and six tours later, Madonna – always reinventing herself musically and stylistically – finally returns to the Valley this weekend, performing two nights at the Glendale Arena, and Chris Hansen Orf, Jess Harter and Sam Mittelsteadt bring readers of the East Valley Tribune their “anthology” of Madonna on stage.
You can’t say they love anything she does, but it’s still worth to check out their article on EastValleyTribune.com – or by clicking the Full Article link below.
• The Virgin Tour (1985)
Shows: 40 (all in North America, including April 30 show at ASU Activity Center)
Opening act: The Beastie Boys
Memorable for: Critics’ harsh reviews. Robert Palmer of The New York Times remarked that Madonna “simply didn’t sing very well,” and Billboard’s Paul Grein declared, “Madonna will be out of business in six months.”
Music Critique: Still very much in her Material Girl mode, Madonna was at the height of her early popularity on this tour, when her hits were ubiquitous on pop radio. Still, she looked like a passing fad – Cyndi Lauper was big around this time, too.
Style Critique: Sure, it looks a bit ridiculous 20 years later, but back then, Madonna wannabes everywhere were mimicking the haphazard multilayered look of a Michigan-born New York art school girl, immortalized in “Desperately Seeking Susan.” Lots of lace, lots of eye makeup, lots of flesh … and lots of imitators.
• Who’s That Girl Tour (1987)
Shows: 41 North (five in Japan, 21 in America, 15 in Europe)
Memorable for: The largest and highest-grossing musical concert tour ever at the time, approximately $20 million.
Music critique: Hardly anybody remembers the film “Who’s That Girl,” a Madonna vehicle that proved that while she could carry a tune, her dialogue was more wooden than Pinocchio. The title track from the film was a decent pop song, and Madonna stirred up controversy with the pro-life “Papa Don’t Preach,” displaying a deeper lyrical quality than her first few records.
Style critique: What in looked great Herb Ritts press photographs didn’t work so well in a world without airbrush action: Madonna’s crispy-platinum hair, oversize dark brows, vermilion lips and exaggerated mole turned her into a live-action peroxided Betty Boop. It was the first look at a newly toned Madonna, though – her bodysuits (including the gold-nippled black velvet corset from the “Open Your Heart” video) and figure-hugging outfits hinted at the physicality to come in later tours.
• Blond Ambition Tour (1990)
Shows 57 (nine in Japan, 31 in North America, 17 in Europe)
Opening act: Technotronic
Memorable for: Featuring five a religious-themed set of songs in which Madonna shocked the world with her simulated masturbation on a crimson-sheathed bed during “Like a Virgin.”
Music Critique: This tour was launched following Madonna’s best disc up to this point, “Like a Prayer” (1989), on which she stirred up more controversy with the video for the title cut, got a funky groove on with the smash “Express Yourself” and got deeper lyrically with “Oh Father.” This disc showed Madonna was not going to be a flash in the pan.
Style Critique: Intimidating femininity. The Jean Paul Gaultier pointy-bra bodysuit turned what should have been curves into aggressively sharp points, and let the singer flaunt her impressive lats and biceps. Hair morphed from a high, tight “I Dream of Jeannie” ponytail fall to a a Shirley-Temple-style moptop of platinum curls.
• The Girlie Show (1993)
Shows: 38 (five in Europe, two in Middle East, seven in North America, eight in South America, eight in Australia, eight in Japan)
Opening acts: UNV (some U.S. shows), Yonca Evcimik and Kenan Dogulu (Istanbul), Peter Andre (Australia)
Memorable for: In Puerto Rico, Madonna caused an uproar by rubbing the Puerto Rican flag between her legs onstage. Politicians in Germany Israel boycotts called for because of onstage nudity and pornographic content.
Music Critique: After a releasing the lackluster disc “Erotica” in 1992, Madonna hit the road with a racy stage show to coincide with the album’s title cut. Madonna performs newer hits such as “Deeper and Deeper” and “Erotica,” but still brings out the older hits.
Style Critique: Sexual but unfocused. Bejeweled bra tops and hot pants, with Mia Farrow-style hair; the “Boogie Knights“-style exaggerated disco, including oversize Afro (from the “Deeper and Deeper” video); Dietrich-style dominatrix.
• Drowned World Tour (2001)
Shows: 46 (19 in Europe, 27 in U.S.)
Memorable for: After Sept. 11, Madonna wore an American flag kilt during the opening segment as a show of patriotism. She also surprised many of her fans and critics by proving herself a talented guitarist while singing live.
Music Critique: Now in her 40s and without an ounce of her baby fat remaining, Madonna is a house music dance diva with pulsating tunes like “Ray of Light” and “Music,” making full use of synthesizers and sequencers, but the catchy pop melodies are still there.
Style Critique: Probably best remembered for the opening-set reconstructed designer punk, with plaid kilts, dog collars and artfully ripped net sleeves. Other costumes included the designer-cowboy look popularized on the “Music” CD cover and in the “Don’t Tell Me” video, and for the ending, the ghetto-fabulous white coat and hat from the “Music” video.
• The Re-Invention Tour (2004)
Shows: 56 (39 in North America, 17 in Europe)
Memorable for: Madonna reportedly refused to perform any song that contained the word “goodbye” to dispel rumors this was a farewell tour. She also did not play any Friday gigs because the teachings of the kabbalah forbid it. At least one song from every Madonna album was in the set list.
Music Critique: With a two-decade career and countless smash singles behind her, Madonna has a back catalog that any touring artist would envy, but the disc that launched this tour, “American Life” (2003), is the most critically panned album of her long career.
Style Critique: True clothing to the tour name, the updated classic looks seen in years past: In promotional photos she wore a powdered wig and outfit designed to evoke Marie Antoinette-style gown worn during her live performance of “Vogue” at the 1990 MTV Music Awards, and stage costumes included an ornate corset-style top and hot pants that still allowed her to perform yoga poses.
• Confessions Tour (2006)
Shows: 52 (34 in North America, 18 in Europe)
Memorable for: Madonna dons a thorny crown, takes a Christlike position on a huge cross and sings “Live to Tell.”
Music critique: “Lucky Star” and “Like a Virgin” are the only tunes Madonna hauls out from her early work, with the set concentrating on her new dance diva show.
Style critique: Sure , there’s the mandatory omnipresent purple leotard, with knee-length tights and heels, but perhaps in a nod to her horseback riding accident, her most memorable outfit – well, except the crown of thorns – evokes a not-so-proper English country gentlewoman: Riding hat and boots, velvet breeches and flouncy black blouse with spider-web-lace sleeves. (And thankfully, no sign of those flipped bangs, a la Valerie Cherish.)