She was the reason we went to Chicago, and her concert was well worth the 14-hour round-trip drive. Even at age 50, and in the midst of a nasty divorce, Madge put on one hell of a show.
Not that I should be surprised--she's been at this a for twenty-five years, and she knows how to create spectacle and please a crowd. But still, the concert was even better than I expected.
The light show and computer graphics on multiple massive screens were dazzling, but techno wizardry has little to do with engaging an audience. The star of this show was clearly Madonna and it was easy to see why.
From the moment she emerged on a throne to the propulsive beat of Candy Shop, off her latest CD, she completely threw herself into her performance--dancing non-stop for two hours, singing live, and playing guitar (respectably, if somewhat superfluously), and even double-Dutch jump-roping as she tore through many of her biggest hits. (And left others gems, such as Frozen, Express Yourself, and Justify my Love disappointingly un-played.)
My favorite moments of the night were Get into the Groove, Like a Prayer, Music, Vogue, Borderline, Hung Up, Ray of Light, and Human Nature. She engaged in some banter with the crowd, but for the most part, she stuck to business with sinewy vigor and relentless energy. If the goal was to prove that she's the most aerobically fit fifty-year old on earth, she succeeded admirably.
The only time the show lagged was during the few ballads, in particular on You Must Love Me, from Evita. It's a nice enough song for a singer with a strong voice, but that has never really been Madonna's stock in trade.
One of my favorite parts of the night was the crowd's huge roar or approval when she showed a series of pictures juxtaposed Barack Obama and Ghandi. It was a nice reminder that we were in Obama's home town, and we get to have a non-Fascist president soon.
Our seats were high, high up, but the view was unobstructed, and I could see everything that happened on the stage. Since no cameras were allowed in the stadium, the best I could do was take a few shots with my zoomless iPhone.
Here's a shot of the stage and the many video screens. (The people--they're like ants!) She's somewhere out on the thrust part of the stage, FYI.
This shot's somewhat better. You'll just have to take my word that the wee tiny figure in the spotlight is indeed Madonna. (She didn't look this small to me, remember--iPhone photography leaves something to be desired.)
The only real downer of the night--NO ENCORE.
I mean, seriously--WTF?!?
After two amazing, frenetic hours, with the crowd totally into the show, she couldn't sweat ten more minutes for Express Yourself or Papa Don't Preach? I'm sure she had a Kabbalah class to attend or something, but still, give me a break. That's amateur crap, and a superstar should know better.
That pissy caveat aside, if you can see her, do. It's a great night's entertainment--but she'll pull the plug when she's ready.
As she says in Human Nature, "I'm not your bitch, don't lay your shit on me."
Fine, be that way.