Finally, after 29 long, agonizing years pop icon Madonna performed a concert in St. Louis, Missouri. Well, only 27 if you count from her first National or World tour in 1985. Either way, the bottom line is that St. Louis has been hungry for some Madonna. On Thursday night, the wait was over as the most successful female performer in music history played to a packed Scottrade Center and amazed many who witnessed the spectacle firsthand.
Madonna recognized the long wait for fans to see her in St Louis by declaring “It’s so good to be here, finally. I crawled my way to St. Louis.”
The Pop icon has been a controversial figure since she burst onto the national scene in the early 1980’s and this tour has heard from its share of critics who lambast the Queen of Pop for anything from graphic imagery to depiction of violence to political stances. It seems what they fail to get is the entire imagery and the story it creates from it.
Madonna performing in St Louis for the first time Thursday
Photo credit: Sean Derrick
To be sure, she held nothing back in her first visit here. Starting off with a scene in a giant temple, replete with monks chanting and ringing bells, Madonna burst out of a floating confessional, gun in hand for “Girl Gone Wild”. After a tease of “Material Girl” was thrown in the crowd thought it would get a treat of a classic Madonna hit, with no such luck.
Madonna was not there to regurgitate her old hits. She had a purpose, and that was a visual story telling that encompassed both sight and sound. Drawing upon emotion as a catalyst, “Gang Bang” started off simple enough with Madonna resting in a mockup of a cheap motel. Right away, it became apparent her character was thinking of vengeful murder.
One by one different assassins would try to kill her but were thwarted by her and every time she shot one images of blood would splatter all over the giant screens which adorned the back of the stage. It was very visual and graphic, but that was the point for Madonna. She goes all out to tell a story, and utilized the entire stage in doing so.
Massive in size and complete with moving parts the stage had a life of its own. Trap doors were placed at various locations in the stage, which jutted out like a diamond all the way to where center ice would be, surrounding a pit called the “Golden Triangle” for elite ticket holders.
Throughout the night dancers and Madonna would go in and out of the doors usually via hydraulic lift. The lifts made other portions of the stage rise above the stage level in multiple places, changing the shape and structure of the stage in a way that should be the basis of the next generation stage presentation. So many possibilities exist with this multi-dimensional stage setup. Each of the risers has a video screen attached under it so that different visual specters could be realized for nearly any situation, from giant pillars in a church, to lounge walls, to a moving train.
It bordered on a sensory overload of sight and sound. It was like seeing a Broadway play only better, with fan interaction great music and a light system that was only missing pyro.
Vocally, Madonna was spot on, her voice as strong as ever. She easily tore through song after song, while constantly moving around the stage, with the energy and stamina of someone half her age. It was truly remarkable and a triumph for the ageless wonder who is in the best shape of her life.
The pace of the show was solid, even during her more than 10 wardrobe changes where a video was displayed with a group of her dancers were onstage the shows pace never wavered. The only hiccup occurred near the end when during the early stages of “I’m a Sinner” Madonna stopped the show because she couldn’t hear herself in her monitor, hearing instead screams. She apologized to her fans asking that they be patient as they fell victim to “the mercy of technology” and offered to restart the song.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind, instead of gave them a glimpse of the Madonna they so adored: the perfectionist who strove to deliver the best show she could for her fans. It was a lighthearted moment that also proved that Madonna is not a robot and gave the fans something they can take as their own. She apologized multiple times and the crowd responded in kind.
Her ability to tell a story so complete visually that fit so well with the audio was amazing at the very least.
To say that attending a Madonna concert was like a religious experience for many could not be underscored enough, and was highlighted during “Like a Prayer”.
Seeing this tour is not about seeing an artist just for her to regurgitate her hits, but for the artist to paint a picture, tell a story and give an experience like no other artist can.
This easily was one of the top shows of the year. No matter what you think of her, there is no denying that fact that she can put on an amazing production that truly entertains quite like no one else can.
1) Girl Gone Wild
3) Gang Bang
4) Papa Don’t Preach
5) Hung Up
6) I Don’t Give A feat Nicki Minaj (via video screen)
7) Best Friend/Heartbeat
8) Express Yourself/Born This Way
9) Give Me All You Luvin’
10) Turn Up the Radio
11) Open Your Heart
13) Justify My Love (Interlude)
15) Candy Shop/Erotica
16) Human Nature
17) Like a Virgin
18) Love Spent
19) Nobody Knows Me
20) I’m Addicted
21) I’m a Sinner
22) Like a Prayer