Opening night review by MadonnaTribe
After a day of queueing and another day spent travelling, here’s finally the much overdue review of Madonna’s opening night show for the Sticky & Sweet Tour at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
First of all, let us say that – no much how spoiled we were with info and tidbits about the concert, the show was completely overwhelming and totally able to surprise. In a nutshell, we’d say it’s a classic Madonna stage show taken to the next level and updated to the state-of-art technologies.
Which is, obviously, your “first contact” with the show. The Sticky & Sweet Tour stage seems an updated version of the Confessions one at first sight, but it contains a number of surprises.
Just like the stage designed for the stadiums on Madonna’s 2006 tour, the new one has two giant textile panels that define the proscenium arch – and you probably know already that the signature “M” capital letter from the M-dolla belt has replaced the Confessions horses.
Let’s also say that the Millennium Stadium had its roof closed – just as during the 2006 show – so all the props, lighting beams and structures were simply hanging down from the ceiling, while we should expect the use of a dedicated steel structures in “regular” stadiums. As there are four different units of sound speakers in the back of the field providing sound to the rear tiers, it is likely that we will get four metal columns in the same position, as some early maps of US stadiums surfaced a few weeks ago seemed to hint.
But let’s get back to the stage, which is made out of a main stage – not particularly wide but definetly more deep that Madonna’s more recent ones – a catwalk – rather similar to the Confessions tour one, and possibly a little shorter – and a satellite stage at the end of the runway.
There is a main set of screens at the main stage – which move and change shape and layout and are presented in the shape of a cube at the beginning of the show – and a double layer of semi-transparent cylinder-shaped screens above the satellite stage.
Then, there’s a whole lot of smaller platforms, stage and ramps, and even conveyor belts, which disappear completely in the stage layout but pop out when the time is right. The catwalks is shaped as a ramp at the very beginning, then is transformed into a flat runway with steps coming down from the main stage, and then again in a conveyour belt. There’s a platform moving from left to right (and the other way round), smaller platforms coming out around the satellite stage, this stage itself rises up, lowers down, and generally speaking there’s a diffuse use of props and other smaller elements that Madonna had not used possibly since Drowned World Tour. In some way, this makes the show more theatrical and less “bare essential” than how Confessions used to be.
As you probably know we were completely aware of the setlist and even had time to get over some thing we didn’t like at the first time. There’s still something that makes us mumble, but most of all, we can’t seem to get completely right what should keep together in a same show section songs that apparently have nothing in common. But nonetheless, the show flows very, very well and as it always happen with a Madonna concert time flies and you get to the end of the concert withou even realizing that the game is over.
Thing is, that Madonna performs a lot on the satellite stage, and some songs are performed there in their entirety. There are only a few numbers that start on the main stage – then move to the satellite and then go back again. The most of “Vogue”, “Human Nature”, “Miles Away”, “Devil”, “Doli Doli”, “You Must Love Me” are performed on the satellite stage, but also huge parts of “Beat Goes On”, “She’s Not Me” and “Like A Prayer”. Which makes the classic question about where is the best part to see the show even more difficult.
We loved the costumes and loved how they were able to introduce something new in the show without going away from the “Madonna tradition”. Madonna’s hair will also be for sure a major theme of discussion in the forums, and this time there’s rather a lot to talk about…
The Gipsy section maybe had the greatest look, and we adore the way Madonna’s black dress is styled with the coloured ribbons in the back.
The concert videos are once again a huge step ahead. The “Charlie and Chocolate Factory” style opening video was simply hypnotic, all the new material was fresh and very seductive, the “Die Another Day” interlude by Tom Munro is another milestone in the Madonna unreleased video collection just as like “Paradise” and “Bedtime Story” have been, the Steven Klein directed pieces for “Human Nature” and “Get Stupid” are pure genious. “Rain” looks a bit weird at first sight but we loved the colours and mood and eventually thought it worked well.
As for the rest of the show, we were rather scared by the uncertainties and the odds of an opening night, but felt that the show was simply flawless. We didn’t get a proper speech but I honestly did not miss one, we didn’t get ballons but I reckon that hard candies would be a little dangerous if thrown down from the top of a stadium, and we felt that Madonna was genuinally enjoying being on stage and having a good time. She really looked at her best and maybe that’s the only thing that could leave you with a strange feeling – the better she looks and performs (and sings, because you can really tell “You Must Love Me” is there to make any critic about her “oh-not-so-good-singing” finally shut up), the more far from you Madonna looks. We were at a great show and loved every minute of it, but the day after we were still wondering if we really were three meters far from a “real” Madonna or having watched a 3-D DVD. But we guess this is how a Madonna concert makes you feel, at least until the day she will decide to perform an intimate acoustic show. “Close and unpersonal”, The Observer titles here today. We still have to read the article and we expect some things we may not agree with – but the title itself possibly nailed it.
Your M-Tribe Team.