Madonna’s life-long themes of church and spirituality once again dominated The Material Girl’s so-called MDNA show as she launched a two-night stand at the Air Canada Centre in front of a sold-out crowd on Wednesday night.
And for the religiously curious 54-year-old singer-songwriter-dancer — raised Catholic and now a Kabbalah worshipper — maybe that’s appropriate.
“We’re all in one room to celebrate life, correct?” she said at one point in the spectacle-like show, which featured plenty of moving stage parts, big video screens, slick lighting and Jean Paul Gaultier-designed costumes.
But it definitely took a while to move from dark to light.
A stern, dramatic opening began Madge’s one-hour-and-55-minute show supporting her latest dance disc, MDNA, as dancers dressed in burgundy monk outfits rang bells and marched across a church-like setting, complete with stained-glass windows, while a giant incense holder (thurible) swung over the heads of a couple hundred audience members lucky enough to be squeezed near the front of the stage inside a point-shaped catwalk.
Madonna kicked the night off with Girl Gone Wild, dressed in a form-fitting black shirt and pants, but it wasn’t really until the next song, Revolver, that she really got our attention as she and her dancers wielded guns, which Madge herself would put to repeated use during the next number, Gang Bang, set in a cheap hotel room bearing a giant cross on the wall.
In that room and on the catwalk, Her Madjesty repeatedly shot intruders.
Pardon the pun, but it was overkill.
Making up for those mis-steps were a short version of her classic Papa Don’t Preach, her later hit Hung Up — with her dancers in camouflage and balaclavas and performing on slackropes (as opposed to tightropes), and Madonna even strapped on a guitar on the new song I Don’t Give A, as the front of her catwalk was elevated.
But it was the first burst of colour with The Material Girl and her female dancers dressed up as drum majorettes in white and red uniforms complete with twirling batons for Express Yourself and Give Me All Your Lovin’ where the concert really came alive a good half-hour into the proceedings.
And while it took a while to get used to a drastically reworked Open Your Heart, featuring the Basque trio Kalakan, when the song took off, it really took off, due in no small part to the presence of her young son Rocco (with ex-husband Guy Ritchie) who bust a few dance moves and came back to the stage repeatedly as the show progressed.
“We just have to feel that it’s coming from the heart,” she explained of new versions of her old songs, and she had a point.
Madonna’s daughter Lola Leon (with Carlos Leon) was also listed as a performer in her tour program but with all of her female dancers brunette, it was actually hard to tell which one she was.
Needless to say they could all dance well.
But possibly the biggest crowd pleaser was Vogue, which saw her and her dancers dressed in different black and white ensembles.
She even chugged back a martini before taking on Candy Shop/Erotica and the most provocative song of the night, Human Nature, which saw her strip down to her bra, with the words “Free Pussy” stencilled on her back, and lower her pants entirely to reveal a thong and fishnet stockings from the back.
That was followed by a slow, solo piano version of Like A Virgin that saw Madonna climb up on the piano.
As the concert neared its end, Madonna was dressed Joan of Arc-like in a Medieval warrior outfit of a shiny silver split gown and pants as the theme of church reared its head again while she sang I’m A Sinner with the help of Kalakan, and Like A Prayer with her dancers and Rocco dressed like a church choir in black and white.
The song ended with what looked like huge Hebrew prayer tablets as the backdrop.
MADONNA SET LIST:
Girl Gone Wild
Papa Don’t Preach
I Don’t Give A
Give Me All Your Luvin’
Turn Up the Radio
Open Your Heart
Like a Virgin
I’m a Sinner
Like a Prayer
Source: Toronto Sun