“There could be no better setting for Madonna’s current tour than Madison Square Garden, where she performed Wednesday night,” Jay Lustig writes today on The Star-Ledger.
“Her new album “Confessions on a Dance Floor” — which provided about half the songs for the show — marks a re-embrace of the beat-driven dance-pop sound that made her a star in New York nightclubs in the early ’80s, before the world discovered her. There is even a “Confessions” song, “I Love New York,” in which she sings, sincerely but not exactly gracefully, “I don’t like cities, but I like New York/Other places make me feel like a dork.”
“Madison Square Garden even felt like a sweaty dance club as Madonna refused, as she has on other tour stops, to let the air conditioning run full blast. (She wants to protect her vocal cords.)”
“Yet Madonna can’t really go home again. She’s 47 now, with interests in spirituality and politics, and a long tradition of controversy-sparking to live up to. There were some giddy dance numbers in the show, but also lots of half-hearted attempts to rile people up.”
Click on the Full Article link below to continue reading this review from The Star Ledger.
It wasn’t a bad show. Madonna’s too much of a pro for that. But it lacked the edge and the electricity of most of her past tours.
Madonna, who returns to the Garden on Sunday and Monday as well as July 18 and 19 (and also performs at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, July 16), made a disco-diva entrance. A giant mirrored ball dropped from the rafters to a mid-arena stage and opened to reveal her.
She got some sexual posturing out of the way early on “Future Lovers.” Her leather-clad dancers pranced like horses and she rode one of them, brandishing a riding crop. She elaborated on the theme during “Like a Virgin,” writhing on a saddle that rose and fell on a pole, as if it were part of a carousel.
She let her dancers dominate “Jump” — their leaps and tumbles became the focus of this production number. She tried out a few moves herself, but mostly just sang.
The mood of the evening shifted abruptly from the physical to the spiritual with “Live to Tell,” which was prefaced by an audio-visual presentation featuring tales of abuse, attempted suicide, and gang violence. Madonna sang while hanging on a crucifix, and ended the song with a series of video messages, including horrifying AIDS statistics, a quote from the Bible (Matthew 25:35) and plugs of the charity Web sites, www.raisingmalawi.org and www.clintonfoundation.org.
It was a brilliant example of having it both ways. Madonna pushes people’s buttons with the crucifix, which has been the focus of much of the media’s coverage of the tour. But, hey, don’t get too worked up about it. Her intentions are good.
With its booming beat, the “Confessions” track “Sorry” became a highlight of the early portion of the show, though a reprise of the song, with a video montage mocking members of the Bush administration, was tacky. So was as an obscene line about the president added to “I Love New York.”
The elegant ballad “Drowned World/Substitute for Love” was the show’s most memorable breather. But the evening peaked with the buoyant dance song “Ray of Light.” Dazzling cosmic explosions filled the video screens, and Madonna’s rudimentary electric-guitar playing added an element of punk-rock brashness.
In the show’s final segment, Madonna finally got around to a whole-hearted embrace of dance music. She donned a “Saturday Night Fever”-style white suit for a mashup of the classic disco song “Disco Inferno” and her own “Music;” cavorted with her dancers on “Erotica” and “La Isla Bonita,” and ended with a medley of her early hit “Lucky Star” and lead “Confessions” single “Hung Up.”
There was an odd moment during this closing number, though, when Madonna led the crowd in a singalong of the “Hung Up” line “Time goes by so slowly.” Not exactly an uplifting sentiment for the show’s climactic moment.
The show ended without an encore, then a message flashed on the screen: “Have you confessed?” Beyond the obvious reference to her new album, it was hard to figure out what Madonna intended by this. Then again, a lot of what she’s doing these days doesn’t seem thoroughly thought out.