The Material Girl played all the hits in a 2-hour-and-10 minute show.
RATING: ***1/2 out of four (3.5 out of four)
Yes, the Material Girl may now be a senior citizen at the age of 65 who has to wear a knee brace and doesn’t put in the serious dance time the way she used to on her previous treks, but she still knows how to stage a major touring production and then some.
Bringing her hits-laden Celebration tour honouring her four decades as an artist to Toronto on Thursday night for the first of two evenings, Madge let it be known that she’s back.
Don’t forget, her entire Celebration trek had to be postponed when she ended up in the hospital with a serious bacterial infection last year.
Bob the Drag Queen began the festivities at a rather late 10:10 p.m. (doors opened at 7:30 p.m., show ended at 12:20 a.m.) as he wandered through the crowd decked out in an MTV-era Marie Antoinette ensemble reminiscent of the one Madonna wore on the awards show in 1990.
“I’m looking for some Canadian bacon,” he joked.
Then it was Madonna’s turn to appear all in black wearing a silver halo under a beautiful glowing light on a circular stage to begin the two-hour-and-10-minute show with Nothing Really Matters.
Eventually, she was joined by an army of talented dancers armed with flashlights as they danced under the New York City skyline for Everybody and Get Into the Groove before she charged ahead to one of three catwalks to play Burning Up on electric guitar.
“Toronto, I’ve still got it, so f*** you!” Madonna joked before reminding everyone she arrived in New York City in 1978 at the age of 19 with nothing more than $35 in her pocket and a positive attitude.
“Are you ready to hear the story of my life?” she asked as the show was broken down into five parts with recognizable costumes shown on Madonna avatar dancers who represented her various eras (including all of the dancers at the end decked out in Madonna outfits for the show finale Bitch, I’m Madonna).
Black and white photos of AIDS victim ranging from artist Keith Haring to designer Halston were also featured while Madonna sang Live To Tell while floating in a large black box over the crowd. (It would make a return later during another set highlight, Ray of Light, featuring her in a silver jumpsuit and futuristic shades.)
Two of the more striking production pieces included a cross-laden carousel featuring hooded and scantily clad males dancers while Madge belted out Like A Prayer followed by three lit-up boxing rings where she went toe-to-toe with several male fighters while singing Erotica.
The infamous red velvet bed from her Truth or Dare tour also made an appearance while Madonna and another avatar provocatively played around on it during the intro for Papa Don’t Preach and she was later joined by nearly naked (certainly topless) dancers for Justify My Love and Hung Up.
Eventually she also brought out some of her talented children including daughter Mercy James, who played beautiful piano during Bad Girl, another daughter Estere, who vogued with the best of them during Vogue, and her son David, who appeared standing side by side with his mom during Mother and Father while photos of her long gone mother, also named Madonna, and his birth mother were displayed on large screens.
She also brought back the Jean Paul Gaultier black coned bra for Vogue, an army of black leather cowboy hat and duster-wearing dancers for the James Bond theme song Die Another Die, some cowboy boots and countrified dance moves for Don’t Tell Me, and got the crowd to light up their phones during her acoustic guitar version of Express Yourself.
1. Nothing Really Matters
3. Into the Groove
4. Causing a Commotion (a cappella snippet)
5. Burning Up
6. Open Your Heart
8. Live to Tell
9. Like a Prayer
11. Justify My Love
12. Hung Up
13. Bad Girl
15. Human Nature
16. Crazy for You
17. Die Another Day
18. Don’t Tell Me
19. Mother and Father
20. Express Yourself
21. La Isla Bonita
22. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina
23. Bedtime Story
24. Ray of Light
26. Bitch I’m Madonna