It's now time to concentrate on the music that made Madonna's
latest touring experience so unique and analyse the way the
songs of the Re-Invention Tour were "re-invented"
and also to talk about some of many behind the scenes
details that Tribe team gathered from various people who worked
on the Tour.
man·ner·ism P Pronunciation Key (mn-rzm)
1) A distinctive behavioral trait; an idiosyncrasy.
2) Exaggerated or affected style or habit, as in dress or speech.
See Synonyms at affectation.
3) Mannerism An artistic style of the late 16th century characterized
by distortion of elements such as scale and perspective.
4) A characteristic and often unconscious mode or peculiarity
of action, bearing, or treatment; especially : any pointless
and compulsive activity performed repeatedly.
5) A deliberate pretense or exaggerated display.
When I had the first chance to listen to the arrangements
of what was going to be called "The ReInvention
World Tour" the first term that came to my mind
The supposed "lack" of"reinvention" in
the new arrangements has been raised up as one of the main
(and few) critics to Madonna's 2004 Tour.
Some were under the impression that the most part of the songs
perforemed were too similar to version already recorded as
album tracks or remixes, or were simply expecting something
more different from what they previously listened to.
On the contrary, I've always though that the "Re-Invention"
was actually expressed at ist best also on the musical side
- and it was all just a matter of interpretation of the term.
Just let me tell you why.
There are two songs in the final setlist that are performed
in a completely different - call it "re-invented"
"Deeper And Deeper" received a
brand new, never heard before jazzy treatment while the song
Madonna included in every Tour so far, "Holiday",
closed the show getting into a tribal and festive mood.
But the majority of the tracks are played in a way that picks
up some of the elements that made the original version unique,
and makes them stronger, bigger, amplified.
This is why the term "mannerism"
came to mind,
Let's take as a first example the first song of the
show - the one performed right after the "Beast Within"
There is distincitive use of syntetized brass in the original
arrangement of Shep's "Vogue".
It's a peculiar punctuation that Shep borrowed from an older
acid-jazz track - the one that actually opens the 12"
version mix of the song.
Re-inventing "Vogue", musical director Stuart
Price sampled the brass hit, to repeat it several
times in the song. Where the original is punctuated by the
brass spree every 16 or 32 beats, Price makes it more dense,
and has it played every 8, or even 4 beats.
As for the rest, the track remains very similar to the Immaculate
Collection version, with just a longer break towards the end
of the track, when Madonna strikes her invented "crab"
The result is a very familiar feel - but the track comes out
more dense and thick, and its structure as a sort of "enhanced"
I consider the "musical equivalent" of what's called
"mannerism" in the visual arts. "Deliberate
pretense or exaggerated display", as mentioned above.
Another example comes from a song performed later on during
It usually takes a while to the audience to recognize "Papa
Don't Preach", because the brand new introductory
"Take Me With You" percussion line is something
they've hardly heard before. But then the strings start, and
the audience literally "feel" them, everybody immediately
It's funny at times, because in every show, in every different
country and venue, the reaction of the crowd is always the
same, perfectly timed as if they were controlled by the crew's
"Papa Don't Preach"strings are not
so familiar for no reason: they come straight from the original
version of the song. But it's not the entire composition being
used, but only the first eight beats, repeated twice and then
with their pitch lifted and made higher to replace the second
"virtuoso" part which is missing.
Re-Invention, again, or better "Mannerism".
Listening to the tracks reminded me of the job Stewart Price
was asked to do at the time of Madonna's "Drowned
World Tour". In an old interview, it was explained
that Madonna herself asked Price to work on the master recordings
of the most part of her older back catalogue, to re-sample and
re-master the songs in such a way to have separate digital tracks
for majority of the instruments used in the orchestration.
I have a feeling that this experience was still strong in Stuart's
mind when he started working on the arrangements of the new
2004 live versions and found himself to deal with so many Madonna
classics. Stripping them to the bone and then re-assembling
them again in a different, contemporary, definitely more electro-pop
way is once again what I call Re-Invention, and Mannerism.
"Express Yourself" received a similar
treatment - just listen to the familiar percussion and synth
lines - and the same happened to "Hanky Panky".
This "method" works at its best with the older -
let's say pre "Ray of Light" - Madonna hits. Things
slightly change when it comes to more recent tracks.
"Nobody Knows Me" - easily one
of the show's highlights - is a very recent track musically
speaking - but the live version had a completely new feel
- a difference perceived in such a significant way that a
lot of people who didn't fancy the song too much before the
Tour started suddenly found a place for it in their favourite
The "manneristic" attitude here is all in one single
sampled, the one that actually opens the track on the echoes
of the previous song in the setlist ("Vogue, vogue, vogue...")
and that is repeated all over the song - becoming the substructure
of Madonna's solo coreography.
And there's more.
"Music" and "Don't
Tell Me" are not only gathered by the fact they
come from the same album, but they are also the two tracks
that make use of some music borrowed from non-Madonna songs.
As DiscoHub well explained, you can't call it a "sample"
because it's live-played music, but "Music"
makes reference to Lalo Schifrin's "Mission Impossibile"
theme in the same way "Don't Tell Me"
has been performed "à la Rolling Stones".
And there are more loops and samples used here and there,
often from some not-well-know European electropop tunes, something
Price definetly enjoys a lot playing with. He's "Mr Dee-jay"
in that moment of the show anyway isn't he?
The Re-Invention tour versions of the songs in the setlist
do also use a lot of remixed versions as
base of the live performance.
This applies to "American Life",
that quickly shifts from the album version to the Headcleanr
"Hollywood" is based on Stuart
Price's "Thin White Duck" version but also adds
that original bit that - as someone wisely pointed out - turns
"Hollywood" into "Bollywood".
Remixes again for another of the show's interludes, this time
is the Orbital version of "Bedtime
Story" being re-assembled for the new video.
And here comes the necessary exception.
To the surprise of many, "Frozen"
was performed in the Drowned World Tour in a version inspired
by the Stereo MC's remix.
This time it is the album version to be used as the base of
the live arrangement, with a strong prominence of the strings
section and some minor enhancements performed by Monte
Pittman that marks with his pickered guitar the second
verse of the song.
There's then a reminiscence of Mirwais in
"Like A Prayer", performed in a
way very similar to the version of the American Life Promo
There's a lot of Monte Pittman again in the
rock versions of "Burning Up" and
Plenty of rock also in the version of "I'm so
Stupid" re-arranged for the Tour but never performed
to the live audience.
You can really hear the old - Chrissy Hynde sounding - early
years - Madonna in this one.
The song was first replaced by "Dress You Up"
during the rehearsals, and then again, more or less a month
before the tour started "Material Girl"
finally took its place in the setlist.
This was also the latest change in the rehearsed setlist,
happening pretty late from a production point of view.
Third party video editing companies have been hired at the
time, as it was feared that the video backdrops were not going
to be completed in time for opening night.
To edit the new backdrop video for "Frozen"
Madonna teamed up again with the director of the original
video for the song, Chris Cunningham.
Instead of filming new material or using unreleased footage
from the 1998 video, Cunningham developed a new edit of his
award winning short film "Flex".
"Flex" that was originally meant as an exploration
of anatomy and sexuality and its strong and violent language
now matches that of Madonna's "Frozen" very well.
Speaking of videos, an unconfirmed rumour claims that what
we are now watching behind the energetic Madonna performing
"Material Girl" was indeed originally
planned as a backdrop to "I'm So Stupid".
While this still remains unconfirmed, I can't help myself
thinking that the maths/physics footage and the Albert
Einstein picture (later replaced by a picture of
Italian scientist Enrico Fermi) would have
also matched the "I'm So Stupid" performance perfectly.
Reworked version - but very close to the originals album tracks
- for "Die Another Day", "Mother
And Father" and "Nothing Fails".
And if you have been wondering if that rumour of "Love
Profusion" meant to replace "Crazy
For You" during the European leg of the Tour was
true, I can now tell you after chatting with a few people involved
on the tour that it was not true, but I've been told the band
indeed tried to convince Madonna to perform "Love
Profusion" in Europe, but instead of "Nothing
Fails", in a brand new acoustic version that was
never managed to be rehearsed, and so we did never had the chance
to enjoy it in the live show.
Brand new version - no need to say that - for the only new
song of the Tour, Madonna's very own cover of John Lennon's
Top secret to the point the band did not rehearse the song
the day before the show's premiere in Los Angeles, to prevent
the fans wandering around the Forum to even hear few notes
of it, the arrangement was once again very simple and fits
perfectly Madonna's touching interpretation of the classic.
Another tidbit I heard says that originally another Madonna
classic song was meant to be in the setlist in the place where
now "Imagine" is.
It is said that it was Guy Ritchie himself
to suggest "Live To Tell" to be
replaced by the new cover song, and "Imagine"
was then added to the setlist.
Apparently Madonna was determined
to avoid the feel of a "Farewell" tour as she was,
and is definitely looking forward to tour again and didn't
want - in any way - to give the impression she was going to
retire from the showbiz after the end of the Tour.
This intention is perceived in the way Madonna stresses the
concept of "don't tell me to stop" at the end of Don't
Tell Me, but apparently has also been a sort of guideline
to follow while choosing songs to be included in the final
Apparently Madonna didn't want the word "good-bye"
to appear in any of the songs she was going to sing, and this
is probably why songs such as "The Power of Good-bye"
and "Take A Bow" were left out.
As everybody knows the tour was such a success and Madonna
and her band and crew were enjoying themselves so much that
an extention of the Tour was briefly considered.
A final decision was then taken during a meeting that took
place at the time of the Paris dates of the show, and it was
then decided to confirm the original schedule and to end the
Tour in Lisbon. But be sure that Madonna
herself had so much fun touring this time that she had already
started thinking about the next tour when the Re-Invention
one was still on. Sources say that even a tentative opening
and closing numbers were considered.
Back to the setlist and the songs' new arrangements, remixing
(and revisiting, of course) was again the main theme for "Into
The Groove", and while Missy Elliott
appears on the giant screen you wonder if those white tank
tops matching the Scottish - US designed and hand made kilts
are actually by the GAP.
As for the bagpiping segment, as Lorne Cousin
explained in an interview to "Piper and Drummer Online"
in July, the interlude that works as the intro to the "Kilt"
section of the Tour features parts of the crunluath doubling
of "MacDougall's Gathering" and
the strathspey, "Susan MacLeod,"
with Lorne and Cloud Campos
playing on stage over a multi-track recording.
When it came time to put together the bagpiping segment, Madonna
asked Cousin to perform what she has been
hearing played by him at Stella McCartney's wedding.
"She listened to it and said 'Can you make it bigger?'
- Lorne reported - which meant that she wanted a bigger sound
than just a solo bagpipe."
It was clear to Cousin that he needed some Scottish drumming
help, so he was put in touch with Stevie Kilbride
of Glasgow's ScottishPower Pipe Band who
was put on a plane to L.A. on only a three-days' notice to
work directly with Cousin, Madonna, and her music producers
and to teach the secrets of Scottish drumming to the dancers.
Stevie himself had then a chance to perform on stage
at the Manchester gigs of the Tour, replacing
an injured dancer and experiencing himself the emotion of
playing with Madonna and for her fans.
complete the overview, let's spend just a few words about the
songs performed before the show started (and right after the
Once again personally chosen by Stuart Price,
they were part of the same setlist every night - in the same
way it happened for the Drowned World Tour.
Among the recognizable tunes we find "Glamour Girl"
by Praga Khan, "This Must Be the Place" by Talking
Heads, David Bowie's "Ashes to ashes", Grace Jones'
"Walking in the Rain", "Wanna be your dog"
by Dakar & Grinser, The Clash and their "This is Radio
Clash", "In da Pub" by 50 Pence, "Ambient
Music #6" by Brian Eno and (Les Rythmes Digitales Remix
of The Mono - Silicon Song.
Here again, mostly remixed versions - although not purposely
As anything else, Re-Invented.