December 1993 was the last time the legendary Madonna was in town, peddling the Girlie Show World Tour on the back of her Erotica album. So it’s fair to say it’s been a long time between drinks for the for the hoards of adoring fans who packed Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night.
As it could be another 23 years before Madonna returns, concert-goers seized the opportunity to pay homage to pop music’s most colourful servant. Sequins, leather, lace and fishnets were the fabrics of choice. Noticeable was the air of excitement and anticipation of seeing the Queen of Pop at long last.
Madonna descended from above in a cage belting out Iconic around 9:45pm to a rapturous crowd who knew they were in for a treat. Soldiers marched the long (and as Madge later noted, phallic) stage that cut through the centre of the arena. She was then joined by what I would describe as ‘nuns in their undies’ who were dancing around enormous crosses that doubled as poles. It was clear from the outset that the bedrock of the Madonna experience is all about challenging ideals and celebrating sexuality.
And celebrate, we did. During one interlude dancers all but had sex with their clothes on with a bed each as a prop – and the whole gamut of sexual preferences on display. I couldn’t help feel like a prude as my jaw-dropped at the spectacle below. But then again, you would feel short-changed if a Madonna show failed to shock and thrill.
The Queen herself showed no signs of her age as she thrust her way through almost three hours of entertainment. Anyone of a similar vintage would have dislocated a hip long ago. Perhaps there is something in that macrobiotic diet after all.
At times the show felt like Cirque Du Soleil as her troupe of ridiculously good-looking world-class dancers swung around on pillars, stair cases and bungys. At others, Madonna showcased her softer side with La Vie En Rose and Take A Bow, which she dedicated to Molly Meldrum who she said “was the first Australian man to appreciate me”. In true-blue Aussie style, he responded “I fucking love you”. A beautiful thing. The crowd went on to chant “Molly, Molly, Molly.”
The setlist mainly consisted of songs from her Rebel Heart release last year, but the crowd enjoyed a few blasts from the past in Like A Virgin, Material Girl and the encore of Holiday, which were all gratefully received.
It’s not often you come away from a show realising you were just privy to a very rare experience by a one-of-a-kind superstar. A consummate performer and a privilege to watch. She challenged, she provoked, she was just really cool. No wonder she is beloved by so many. I can only wish I am half as flexible when I reach 57.
Good onya Madge, we hope to see you back here real soon.