Despite ticket prices coming down across the board, Madonna is still selling out shows with the top ticket price at $350. Who has that kind of money to spend?
It’s a rhetorical question. Don’t answer.
Madonna makes a convincing case for forking over the money, from the elaborate dance routines, to an enormous set of movable parts that extended half way across the arena, to Madonna herself. She continues to reinvent her old material, turning Human Nature into a grunge rocker (complete with a Britney Spears cameo) and Rain into a mash-up with the Eurythmics’ Here Comes the Rain Again. Madonna looks unbelievably hot and muscular and her voice sounded great. She opened the show with Candy Shop and a stunning dance routine and then set out across the long catwalk to a secondary stage set up in the round dead center of the arena floor for Beat Goes On.
Everything moved. The screens pushed back, raised up and pulled forward. Floors dropped below the stage and raised up in the air. Slender half-sized screens, pushed by Madonna’s troupe of back-up dancers, flashed images of Justin Timberlake and other Hard Candy contributors during various songs. It was total overstimulation and to die for.
The last Madonna show I forked over my life savings for was Reinvention which was a good choice because despite promoting a not-so-great album (American Life) the show itself was a greatest hits set and it was spectacular. It was simply stunning, overwhelming and such a completely outrageous display and I loved every second of it. I expected every moment of the Sticky and Sweet Tour to be the same.
I love Madonna’s new album Hard Candy and that alone made it worth heading down to Boston to see the Sticky and Sweet Tour, even if the ticket price made me gag. The show was heavy on tracks from the new album, but Madonna generously added in some of her best hits including a couple of favorites of mine Human Nature and Ray of Light.
The show was divided into four segments, thematic breaks if you will though the average person probably doesn’t obssess over the difference between the Gypsy segment and the Pimp segment. But I guess if you’re an artist, it helps to keep the creative flow organized. Much of this show was a mash-up of various components from the album and samples from other artists. Vogue featured the numerous strains of ticking clock from 4 Minutes. Like a Prayer borrowed from Felix’s dance track “Don’t You Want Me” (and frankly was one of the highlights of the night.) Into the Groove included an entire interlude dance routine on jump ropes and another Madonna hit Jump.
Borderline went from ballad to a straight rock song giving it an almost Natasha Bedingfield vibe. During She’s Not Me, Madonna confronts her own ghosts, four dancers dressed in Madonna costumes and blonde wigs from various music videos, including the bride from Like a Prayer. (Okay, honestly, the way I just described it doesn’t do the scene justice – it was exquisitely choreographed.) Before Hung Up, Madonna screamed at the crowd “I hope you registered to vote” and then claimed she wasn’t allowed to make political statements before telling us to “Vote for Obama.” She also led the crowd in a sing-a-long of American Life after seeing a handful of guys hold up signs in the audience. The crowd itself was pretty weak, and Madonna made a comment about it, and then thankfully cranked up the energy level in spite of the lackluster response she was getting.
The sound in the Garden tonight sucked but it was more noticeable on some songs than others (I couldn’t figure out why.) Spanish Lesson actually benefited because the lyrics were completely drowned out by the mix. During Heartbeat, it was almost painful to listen to and then one song later, Borderline, you wouldn’t have noticed any problem.
It’s well known that Madonna likes it warm for her vocal chords and having sweat through the Garden during other shows, I knew what to expect. One, jungle-like temperatures. Two, a long wait past the posted start time. Three, a lot of drunk, screaming fans every time the house music swells up and down even when there is no indication the show is about to start. Madonna had a DJ play a thirty-minute set around the time the show was supposed to start, but it was still another hour after that before she took the stage. She also apparently has numerous oddball demands on her hotel space and of the venue itself, but when you bring along 250 staff, crew, dancers and musicians, I guess any amount of accommodation and travel plans is an organizational nightmare. How taxing is it to get her extra bottles of Kabbalah water, really?
It’s a rhetorical question. Don’t answer.
Beat Goes On
Die Another Day interlude
Into the Groove/Jump
She’s Not Me
Rain/Here Comes the Rain Again mash-up
Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You
La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute
Doli Doli interlude
You Must Love Me
Get Stupid interlude
Like a Prayer
Ray of Light
American Life sing-a-long
Give It 2 Me