Madonna broke another convention at the first U.S. date of her Sticky and Sweet tour, held at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands Saturday night.
After a career spent sneering at the stricter rules of religion, sex and gender, the star has a fresh foe in her sights – age.
Seven weeks after qualifying for her AARP card, the 50-year-old put on a show that could have winded the most sinewy of teens. For nearly two hours, Madonna commanded the stage – first, quite literally, by entering on a throne – then by throwing her rigorously toned body through tricky dance moves, including leg splits, crotch grinds and even a double Dutch jump rope drill.
The sight had to inspire admiration, even if it did nothing for the cause of spontaneity and even less for the realm of sensuality. Then again, Madonna’s shows have never had much use for such things. They’re multimedia workouts, geared more to awe – or alarm – than charm.
Luckily, the staging of the show has enough razzle-dazzle to excite. And the material that dominated had enough fury in the beats and fluidity in the melodies to make up for any of the night’s self-consciousness or rigidity.
Half the show’s repertoire drew from the new Hard Candy CD, which ranks as Madonna’s most fun, fleet and danceable work since her very first one.
She started right out with a newbie, Candy Shop, and from there kept the momentum going with consistently fresh arrangements of even the oldest songs. The yearning pop ballad Borderline became a punk pop anthem, sounding more like something The Stooges would thrash out. Vogue earned a new electro-clash boost. And for some reason La Isla Bonita got an enjoyably weird Eastern European arrangement.
Nearly all the music swung in a more punishing direction than on its album, and Madonna allowed only one true ballad, You Must Love Me, which had its own form of overstatement in her pleading vocal.
The video followed the tough theme, with brutal images even of candy canes. In one of the few more sprightly passages, Madonna dipped back to her 1980s roots, using a playful backdrop of Keith Herring electric babies. Thankfully, she had just one political moment, the now infamous video montage that juxtaposes John McCain with images of fascist leaders and Barack Obama with peace activists. Maybe it would have been more effective if the music behind it didn’t endlessly repeat the phrase “et Stupid.
The clumsiness of it all only threw into even higher relief the welcome lack of pretension in the rest. Mainly Madonna aimed to push her true forte – cutting-edge dance music. She did so effectively enough to make the audience dance nearly as hard, and as youthfully, as she did.
Source: NY Daily News