Madonna's Confessions tour hit Chicago last night -- the first of four sold-out shows -- and it was worth the price of admission (although at those prices, I wouldn't have minded a little a/c, but Queen Madge apparently had strict instructions to keep it off so it wouldn't damage her vocal chords.)
I knew we had great seats -- section 1, row 14 between two catwalks. When she came through town two years ago, the catwalks were raised above the audience so I assumed it would be the same. But as we walked down onto the floor and realized that our seats were literally smacked-up next to the floor-level center catwalk, we knew life was good. I'd seen Madonna three other times in my life and this would -- no doubt -- be the most surreal experience.
And it was. Madge -- and her troop of dancers -- were literally within 5 feet of us as they walked, swayed, danced, roller skated, jumped and sang down the catwalk. We were so close that I swear I saw some Botox holes in her forehead!
As for the show, it was a well-executed, visually stimulating production. Fuck that, it was intense. It was mind blowing. It was dramatic, political, emotional. For a 47-year-old mother of two, Madonna looks hot as hell and can move in ways most people only dream of. She has the flexibility of an 16 year old but with the attitude of a woman who's earned the right to call herself the most famous woman in the world.
As for the music, she delivered (except on a couple of lip-synced songs). She opened with "Future Lovers" and came down in a massive disco ball (see picture below) and went into Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." She paraded through most of the songs on her new album, mixing in old favorites like "Erotica," "Lucky Star" and "Like A Virgin," where she straddled a stationary saddle, bucking on it up and down.
She rocked out with her electric guitar during "I Love New York" and donned a John Travolta Saturday Night Fever-esque white suit while sampling "Disco Inferno." And ended the show in true disco diva fashion with the over-the-top party number "Hung Up." To my surprise and dismay, she didn't play "Holiday," her one real staple in every tour. Why? Not sure. Bummed was I? You bet.
Madonna has always been one to use her forum to speak her mind -- and this she did over and over. She took on our world's leaders, flashing their images across the screen and eventually comparing Dubya to Hitler. And during "Live to Tell," where Madonna hung from a cross (see above), a timer counted up to the number 12,000,000 -- signifying the number of African children orphaned by AIDS. And during "Forbidden Love," she had topless male dancers stand in solidarity -- and she joined them -- showing her continued dedication to the gay community.
Whatever you say about Madonna's antics, the woman is the consummate performer. At the end of the day, she will always deliver, because if she can't, she might as well hang up her unitard and high heels. But for now, she's bringing it -- in full force.
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