Madonna @ US Airways Center| 10/16/12
With a long history of being a proven provocateur, it makes sense that Madonna has managed to piss a lot of people off since kicking off her MDNA tour.
There was that nip slip in Istanbul, and a reference to our current president as a "black Muslim," so one had to wonder what kind of shenanigans Madge would get up to as the tour made its stop at the US Airways Center last night.
Turns out, there wasn't much in the way of controversy, just one of the most over-the-top performances of the year.
Which isn't to say there wasn't plenty to be offended by if you're of the conservative sort. Religious imagery, gratuitous violence, and Spanish curse words were just a few of the things likely to raise a few eyebrows, and if you were a Republican you probably weren't thrilled that Madonna declared President Obama the victor in Tuesday night's Presidential debate.
Of course, conservatives probably aren't big on Madge's style, but it's worth mentioning: When she cited Obama as the debate's winner, the arena seemed to be fairly split between cheers and boos.
Last night's performance was a huge stage spectacle that felt more like a Broadway production than you're average concert. There were certain points during the show that you couldn't help but smile and laugh at the craziness happening on stage.
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The stage show featured a little bit of everything. There was an army of backup dancers, tight rope walkers, choreographed fight sequences, a gun toting Madonna during "Girl Gone Wild," pre-recorded performances from Lil' Wayne for "Revolver" and Nicki Minaj for the song "I Don't Give A," and a marching band suspended in the air during "Express Yourself." It was wild, and in Madonna style, absolutely fun.
The only risk you run with such elaborate visuals is making the musical component of the show feel undercooked by comparison. Madonna's performance was fine -- but the vocals were difficult to hear, and she seemed to have some help from pre-recorded vocals during the show. Considering how much was happening on stage, it would be hard to hold that against her.
It's likely that there was more than one person who went away from last night's show disappointed they didn't hear their favorite Madonna song. Rather than playing all of her iconic songs most of the songs in her set were from her recent album MDNA which has been labeled as her "divorce" record. For the most part, though, she did include a lot of fan favorites like "Papa Don't Preach," "Express Yourself," and "Vogue," among others.
One of the more intimate and personal moments of the night came just after Madonna's performance of "Human Nature." After stripping down to just her bra and a pair of pants the word "Amanda" was visible on her back. Madonna went on to tell the story of Amanda Todd, a Canadian teen who recently committed suicide as a result of bullying from her classmates. Madonna likened the bullying to a form of terrorism. She then dedicated the song "Like A Virgin" to the young girl. The song was rearranged, slowed down, making the moment feel more reverent than you might expect.
Being that the show last night got off to a late start Madonna played well past midnight. Despite the late hour everyone seemed to still be going strong as she performed "Like A Prayer," which was definitely one of the highlights of the night.
Overall, it was hard not to enjoy last night's show. Everything from the on stage spectacle to the music was a lot of fun. Pretty impressive for someone who has been doing this as long as Madonna has. If last night was any indication, Madonna has plenty more years ruffling feathers left in her.
Last Night: Madonna at US Airways Center Personal Bias: I've never been a huge Madonna fan but I've always been curious to see one of her concerts. The Crowd: A strange mix of the gay community and older rich Scottsdale types. Overheard in the Crowd: "Okay, who wants to spit in this guys drink?" Random Notebook Dump: Madonna is really good at changing her clothes fast.
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"The Prayer Overture: Act of Contrition" "Girl Gone Wild" "Revolver" "Gang Bang" "Papa Don't Preach" "Hung Up" "I Don't Give A" "Prophecy" "Best Friend" "Express Yourself" "Give Me All Your Luvin'" "Turning Up the Hits" "Turn Up the Radio" "Open Your Heart" "Masterpiece" "Masculine/Feminine" "Justify My Love" "Vogue" "Candy Shop" "Human Nature" "Like a Virgin" "Redemption" "Nobody Knows Me" "I'm Addicted" "I'm a Sinner" "Like a Prayer" "Celebration"