years, 45 minutes, will have to wait who knows how much longer to see Madonna perform her Immaculate Collection hits -- since the most scrutinized woman in the world barely sang a note from the 20th century.
That's not to say the Drowned World Tour is a washout. In some ways it's Madonna at her best, buff at age 43, spearheading the most artistic of the planet's big-budget arena pop concerts.
The background video alone, which featured a flurry of themes for every song and which played on a splattering of varying-sized screens, made the concert memorable.
It alternated all night from, say, a cosmic-star theme and lightning-paced explosion of Madonna images to colourful '60s-style animation and a black-and-white homage to religions around the world.
As highly rehearsed as is The Drowned World Tour, the Detroit dates nevertheless managed to offer something special. Given that she was born Madonna Ciccone, Aug. 16, 1958, in Bay City, Mich., playing Motown represents her homecoming.
"Well, hot diggity-dog, I guess I'm in my home town now," she said Saturday in a Hee-Haw country accent. "Half the people here I have either babysat for, went to school with, or am related to, so you better give it up for me."
And 15,000 fans cheered their home-town heroine like the second coming.
Adding to the historic nature were the phalanx of Home Box Office cameras, including two large booms that sent lenses sailing over the audience. The Sunday night show was broadcast live on HBO, the only date of the tour -- which started in June in Barcelona -- televised in North America.
Saturday was "safety night," a full-out dry run which would have aired if problems popped up Sunday night.
The show started rather ethereally, with green video screens and eerie smoke and dancers in Mad Max-style outfits, wearing headgear with dual headlamps -- like powerful bat eyes -- jumping around as if possessed. Soon the Boy Toy herself rolled onto the stage, littered as it was with hydraulic lifts and trap doors through which performers appeared and disappeared.
Study in contrasts
The Drowned World Tour is a study in contrasts. Madonna, who actually strummed some basic rhythm guitar, sat all alone at one point on a loveseat and sang to the audience pseudo tete-a-tete. She also came out in a Japanese kimono whose sleeves stretched like massive wings to the farthest reaches of the stage.
And while Madonna provided several slow songs, she generally kept her edge, even telling the audience -- as did glittering letters on her guitar strap -- to F off. She pulled a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon move, flying through the air with her dancers while suspended from harnesses.
She had daring video, such as an anime-inspired cartoon which featured male ogres attacking distraught female cartoon characters; she showed stylized pictures of herself looking terribly beaten up; and she pulled out a shotgun and shot a performer dead. Um, point taken.
And she put her 12 dancers -- one of whom is LaSalle's (LaSalle, Canada) Christian Vincent -- through the ropes, literally. Several of them dangled upside down, nearly naked, twisting their bodies into avant-garde poses.
And only to end the show did Madonna allow some old favourites out, offering a power set of La Isla Bonita and Holiday. Her encore was a spirited version of recent hit Music, for which the entire concert danced en masse.
So, she didn't have a heart for traditional fans. Madonna did, however, display heart another way -- once more showing she delivers the unexpected.
- Bron: The Window Star, Ontario