Philadelphia show insanity, My moment with M
Thanks to Keeneye for his memories and report of his Madonna Moment in Philadelphia.
Be sure to click on the Full Article link below for the full story.
“Closing night in Philly, Thursday, 7/13/2006.
I actually needed a few days (both to recover, and due to work) before posting again. I added a few thoughts late that night, and figured I’d write my thoughts down now, in retrospect. As I said initially, this show seemed much more insane and rock-n-roll in its feeling. Possibly because of my seat, possibly because of my “Close Encounter of the Only Kind.”
“I was totally whipped after opening night. (Wednesday 7/12). I didn’t really sleep on Tuesday (partially because of work stuff, partially due to excitement as it was my first show since Chicago), and the show itself left me exhausted, as you can imagine. I only slept about 2 hours after the show before going into work Thursday. Everything ached, and I actually wondered how the hell I was going to make it thru the day, let alone the show. (Two days with no sleep and knowing you have another M concert wreaks havoc, ya know?) The company I work for was one of the lead sponsors of the Phila. Int’l. Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, which was opening Thursday night, too. So I already knew that after the M performance I would have to attend our opening night party – which WB co-opted with us as the official “Confessions Tour” closing night party. I knew I’d have to meet up with Tracy Young later, too. Needless to say, my brain was on auto pilot. I didn’t know what to wear for night two, so I figured f-ck it – go with the shirt I had made up and just carry on.
Off topic for a sec:
My music tastes are anything but pop. Everything from underground hard dance, to jazz, classical, ambient, electronic, trip-hop, shoegazer, etc. While I keep up on new pop, I don’t buy it or own any of it. (Most of it is such crap anyway.) But there’s just something about M that’s so fascinating and really moves me. (As I’ve noted before, I used to hate her; “Erotica” made me really stand up and take notice of her, and by “ROL” I was a stunned fan.) Reason I mention all this is because of the t-shirt I had made. Never in a million f-cking years did I ever think I’d have a fanboy like t-shirt made up, let alone actually wear it in public. Just goes to show the power of M, I guess. Needless to say, it was clean when I wore it on night two.
I left work a bit early again on Thursday to run home and change. I was going to this show solo, so I snagged a cab to the Wachovia, and was kind of in a daze. It didn’t kick into my brain where I was going or why until we pulled up to the Wach and I saw the mass of people yet again. Made a few quick calls to friends and business associates as I walked across the Wach parking lot, letting people know where I was if they needed me and that I was switching off my cell. (A few friends of mine openly said they were starting to worry about my sanity, my M addiction, and my bank account status.)
Got inside the Wach around 7:30 and walked around a bit. I was beat as hell, and was trying to get in the mood. It still fascinates me, the folks who attend her shows. Again it was the combo of hottie club/gym bunny boys, a sprinkling of drags, a few messes, rabid long-time fans (the “Vogue”-era t-shirts are dead giveaways), the curious, the money-bag idiots who are only there because they want a ticket stub as a status symbol to brag about, club kids, and the just plain funky ones. I went back to the bar area for a quick cig and a drink. Had nothing in my stomach so the drink hit me hard and fast. (So, of course I had another one.) My heart kinda sank a bit as the crowd seemed even less dressed up that the night before, not exactly what I would call cute (yes, I was feeling like a superficial sh-t that night, sorry) and not at all what I was hoping for. I spoke to a few folks, just to kinda feel the vibe out. Some were already totally wasted and complaining they heard she didn’t do “Holiday” or “Dress you Up” this tour. VOMIT – I was soooo not in the mood for this crew. Needless to say, I was a bit worried. (The mental midgets I had to deal with in the bathroom didn’t make me feel any better.)
But as I would soon find out, my fears would all to be laid to rest.
My reading of the crowd was dead wrong and totally off-base.
Around 8:15 I was pretty buzzed and decided to head to my seat (section 3, row 24, right at the catwalk). The catwalk area was totally clogged with people, most of whom obviously didn’t belong there, so I was actually starting to get pissed. I had a killer seat, and was not about to share it with and Britney-n-Kevin family members. I gave a few looks of death to some folks, but then regrouped in my head – I’m about to experience Mother again, why spread negative vibes? I started talking with everyone around me – and what a crew they were. There was rather heavy-set older woman (late 40s to early 50s) who had staked out her rightful seat at the very end of the catwalk, right before the front of the mini-stage starts. At this point I was really getting into the moment. “Check her out,” I thought. She was so ready to see the show. She had never seen M perform live before, she was heavy-set, surrounded by much younger and rowdy folks, it was already very hot down on the floor, and she was so excited. Good vibes started kicking around the whole section. I met a young couple (cousins as it turned out), the girl having a seat in my row but seat 3. I told her I’d get her to the catwalk at some point – just to be cool and not shove anyone out of the way. There were three very cute Italian boyz by me, too (we chatted throughout the show), as well as a few big-time fans and a few ICONers (I assumed they were anyway).
Speaking of which, I saw a few ICONers walking around the floor before showtime, recognizing them from their pics posted on the ICON site. I really don’t post on the boards too often, but when I do it’s only to answer a question, or for a quick keek-kee. I agree that 99% of them seem to be really great people, taking care of one another, helping each other out, normal yet enthusiastic M fans, etc. But I gotta tell ya, a few of them are pretty ferocious and vicious to what they must perceive as “non ICONers” or non-fans. (I’m not going to name names.) I saw some pretty sh-tty moves by some of them, and I don’t think Mother would approve. (Being tough and strong-willed is one thing; being a total c-nt to strangers is definitely another.) Not trying to be negative or bust on anyone, it’s just an observation. I mean hell, I kept my initially lame mood to myself when I first got to the Wach; I didn’t kill anyone else’s night. Flashing a stranger a smile is so much easier than doling out negative vibes – especially at a potentially once-in-a-lifetime moment as seeing M live.
Guy Oseary walked by our section to chat with security and tech. I snagged him for a sec, said hey, and jokingly showed him my shirt that I had shown him and flashed at M the night before. He gave me a great smile, and said “Oh, man, I don’t have my camera. You going to be at any other shows?” I told him yeah, MSG next week. He asked me to wear the shirt again (I presume so he could get a better shot of it). Very cool and flattering; my dry cleaner had a rush-job on her hands now. As reported, Lenny Kravitz was escorted in to the front row of section five (end of the middle catwalk). Flashbulbs went off like mad as fans screamed his name. (I work in the industry, but always find it odd when people scream celeb’s names at the top of their lungs as if they’re being hacked with a machete. Then again, I’d end up being guilty of that very crime about 25 minutes later – but not for Mr. K, tho.) He looked great, and gave a few smiles to fans. (On the Kravitz topic: I’m starting to wonder if in fact he and M have a project of some sort planned, as this was his third show. Tonight, though, he wasn’t as joyful as before. I mean, he was bobbing and grooving, just not smiling as much. He left towards the end of “Hung Up” just as most major celebs have been so far, presumably to get backstage before the mass post-show exodus.) Guy and his staff milled about as security at the Wach acted like The Pope had just arrived; in fact the Wach security staff were VERY agitated for some reason that night, and I saw more than one not exactly treating fans with respect.
Ok… the show.
I was totally in the moment now. My voice was pretty rough from the night before, and my calves were really achy, but being in that amazing seat, so close to the ball’s landing pad, and surrounded by hardcore fans (but not nut jobs) was infectious. I was ready. I could feel the adrenaline pumping thru, keeping me going. Right before the house lights dimmed, something inside of me clicked, and I knew THIS was going to be “The Show” to remember. (Not trying to get weird or mystical here, it’s just one of those inner moments you know if you’d experienced one before.)
As with the previous night, rather than a full blackout the house lights dimmed about 3/4 of the way and stayed that way for a good 3-4 minutes before the screens came alive with those “no-matter-how-many-times-you-see-them-they’re-still-jaw-droppingly-breathtaking -stunning-works-of-art” equestrian images. (I’m not sure if this is now the norm for all shows, but the ones I saw before Philly went full blackout; viewers in other cities can chime in their experiences.) Of course the place exploded in maniacal screams, and I gotta tell ya it made me laugh and get all “up in it.” Can you imagine what it does to her hearing that night after night while crouched under the stage waiting for her cue? Has to be the biggest rush – deservedly so.
Having now seen the show from various angles, there’s no question the best place is dead-center. (On the floor where I was is of course Mecca.) The sound really rumbles here – I think I made mention in my thoughts of seeing the show in row four front about the stage set up and side catwalks muffling the sound somewhat – and the thundering of the horses is a fantastic sound design effect. As the ball begins its descent it moves up to a crescendo that is simply spine-tingling. (All who have seen the show can attest to this, I’m sure.) When the second vocoder-amped verse of “Give me evidence of its brilliance” ends with a crash and the mini-stage’s floor explodes in deep blue hues, the effect is killer. And being a mere 8 feet or so from that sick-as-f-ck mirror ball as it flowers open with Mother wrapped inside – well, your bladder better be empty or you’ll find yourself drenched in something other than sweat. I honestly think its one of the grandest pop-culture moments of all time. It’s too new and fresh (and has been written about ad nauseum in the press) to be really appreciated right now; hell, even my mother who has zero interest in M knows how this show opens from all the press coverage. I’ll wager that 5 years from now those who saw the show live and maybe weren’t blown away by it will look back on that entrance and claim it as one of the coolest things they’ve ever seen. Even M haters I’ve spoken to are stunned when they see footage of it.
As before, I’m not going to run through the whole show, as anyone reading this already knows it inside and out. But a few highlights from this night:
The crowd was truly pumped tonight. I mean, of course every M show’s crowds go nuts when she takes the stage, or sings a well-known hit, or says something funny or swears, but THIS crowd was the most intense I think I’ve ever seen for any of her shows. I know she has this great affinity for Philly, but this crowd was nearly psychotic in their love. Not just the section I was in (of COURSE catwalk c-nts are going to go berserk anytime M or a cast member is near) – I looked around and even the nosebleeds were gigging. And not just during ROL (which of course was the one that made the walls shake). Was amazing to see. Singing on most songs – again, “the relatively tame “Drowned” was sung by the crowd – and being a part of the show instead of just watching it.
Being that close is like no other. During “Future” I was able to really take in the complexities of the choreography. I’ve read some complaints about King’s staging, but this number is by far something that should be at the top of his resume. The perfectly timed leaps, coupled with M’s demands for unqualified perfectionism is fully realized with this number. If you watch it carefully, SO much could go wrong – the leaps, the body rolls, the freeze-framing and “braying” in perfect synch. Watch the boys in particular… f-cking incredible. And I gotta say, Cloud’s intensity here is amazing. I was only about 2½ to 3 feet from him as he gets very close to the end corner, leaning over a bit as he makes his body equine-like. He looked down for one sec, and gave me a quick wink. (Not something he’ll remember, but I will.)
Most of the numbers went straight through as before … granted, tonight she was totally on-point and her voice was flawless. I mean flawless … every note was perfect. (I love her to death, but of course she can occasionally fly a bit off key when moving about so wildly; not tonight.) The show actually kept building in intensity; I think it was a combination of her and the audience just really and truly connecting. It’s rare when that happens at huge arena shows, but when it does … you know it and feel it.
“Ray of Light” was even more explosive than usual. She really didn’t even need to inject her usual “Okay I want to see everybody dancing now… get up? on your feet? no sitting?” as by this point the crowd was nearly psychotically into her. Let me just put it this way … at one point in the front of the left side of section 1 a blowup sexdoll started bobbing above the crowd. (I assume it was blown up on the floor at not at the Wach’s entrance, otherwise security there REALLY has some issues.) I hope to God she saw it, but in all likelihood not, as the lights are right in her face at that point. Trust me … I pointed it out to everyone. It was hilarious, totally rock’ n roll, borderline retarded, and f-cking brilliant.
Her patter was much longer during the break before “Drowned.” She was all smiles, made mention of spending time in PA as a kid with her grandparents, etc. The “Sorry Interlude” is still devastating (and again much more intense further from the front). The “cowboy hat” moment occurred again tonight, and sad to say I have a feeling now that it’s a staged moment. (Or at the very least the fan is approached ahead of time.) For those who haven’t seen the show the moment still makes for incredible theater, and let’s face it, that’s what Mother does best. I just hope that word doesn’t spread, or else the entire audience may end up looking like extras from the “Don’t Tell Me” video shoot trying to have an interactive M moment.
Now, the “moment.”
What I’m about to describe lasted approximately 15 seconds.
Being that close to her makes one do things they normally would not do. As I’ve said, I’ve been in the entertainment business my entire professional life, and know how to act around celebs and important clients. I think being so overtired as well as so into this tour made me go a bit off. At one point M came right by the very end of the middle (main) catwalk (right corner if you’re looking at the stage). I screamed at her (the only time I ever have) just to get her attention. She was in mid-song, but made it over. I stepped up on the bottom rung of the catwalk to hoist myself a bit higher. (NOTE: This is not a smart idea, and I do not recommend it … no matter how excited you get. Security gave me the look of death and was not amused, but it was obvious I wasn’t a lunatic. Still, screaming and stunts like that puts their guard way up.)
As she came over, of course the crowd went surging forward. I had seat 1, and was right against the catwalk, but of course others pushed forward. (Understandable.) I very calmly stretched out my sweat-soaked custom t-shirt that I had made and pointed at it. She leaned in, about 2½ feet from my face (get a ruler to see how close that is) and I pointed at my chest. I was staring right at that iconic gap in her teeth, and could see her eyes traveling across my chest as she read my shirt… “The Audience is Listening? and Mother is Speaking.” (You all know I call her that, and always have.) A huge grin broke out on her face, she looked me dead in the eyes, and I quietly mouthed “Thank you.” And then she was gone.
The moment was made really special by the reaction of fans around me. People started jumping on my back, pulling on my shirt, screaming “Oh my God… did you see that?” “Jesus Christ, that was incredible!” “Congrats!” and the like. Seeing the reaction of everyone around me was fantastic; people were genuinely psyched and happy. Mother would have been proud. (Special mention to the posse of Italian cutie boyz and the guy and girl cousin duo.) Again, everything happened so fast it was mind boggling.
And yes, it was very exciting.
A word of advice:
As I said I’ve worked in the entertainment biz for years. And what I’ve never understood is the reaction some people have when they come in contact with a celeb. Yes, it’s exciting, but try to keep your wits about you; you have a better chance of some interaction that way. Screaming like some mad dog about to pass a stone is a sure-fire way to get avoided. If you happen to be seated near one of the catwalks and Mother comes near you, be cool. (Not easy, I know.) One trick is to reach out palm up; the natural reaction is reach outward, fingers stretched. If you reach out palm up and M is working the crowd, you have a much better chance of her touching you. Reaching out palm up is more inviting, and she can let go if she feels threatened. She is working after all, and needs to move on quickly. So if you’re lucky and she reaches out to you, don’t grab or hold on tight – just let her hand pass over yours. This way you’ll have your memory and moment, and she gets to keep her sanity and safety intact.
By the time “Hung Up” rolled around I was totally whipped. My voice was completely shot to s-it, and my legs were killing me. But looking around the Wachovia was amazing; everyone seemed to be pumping and jumping. More balloons than usual fell again (the sides got a big drop just as the center did), and feeling I had already had my moment, I kept tossing them back behind me so others could get a cool souvenir. (Granted, tonight I took one for myself, another thing I never thought I’d do.) Sadly, plenty of the greedy grabbing “sell ’em on eBay” bastards were snarking up a ton for themselves. Kind of a big loser moment for them if you ask me.
I made my way to our opening night Film Festival party that was co-opted with WB as the official “Confessions Tour” after-party. Hung out with Tracy Young for a few moments, met up with Darryl Stephens (from “Noah’s Arc” and our film “Another Gay Movie“) who was totally sweet and even better looking in person. (Irony of ironies, I had dinner with Sandra Bernhard the next night, as she was receiving the Career Achievement Award from us at the festival. Life is indeed a mystery.)
Holy sh-t, this turned into an effin’ novel.
Well, there are my thoughts. I was going to go to AC, but glad I passed. My last show in the U.S. is Wednesday 7/19 at MSG in my beloved New York, her closing night stint. While I expect it to be beyond stellar, I don’t know how it will ever surpass the Thursday 7/13 show at the Wachovia in Philly.
Then again, one never knows.
Look who we’re talking about.“