Madonna X-periments With ‘The Madame X Tour’

As the 11th tour in her over three decade-long reign as the Queen of Pop, Madame X is entirely unlike any other Madonna tour to date. For one thing, the show is designed for the theater, as opposed to her usual sold-out baseball stadium fare. (The first venue on the trek, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, seats fewer than 3,000.)

Given the close quarters, there’s no catwalk to consider, nor do fans needs to panic about which side is “better.” It’s all relatively close (“intimate,” as she purred to the crowd), and all front and center. Seeing Madonna in that environment,her first time on a theater stage since her West End debut with Up for Grabs in 2002, is objectively a special experience.

The Madame X Tour is also phone-free.

It’s 2019: we’re all addicted to our phones. Even the woman on stage — who the audience paid hundreds, and in several cases, thousands of dollars to see — teased the crowd multiple times about their phonelessness, only to admit to being addicted to her own device during a misguided monologue about technological entrapment and slavery. (A rework is needed on that speech, ASAP.)

Based on conversations in the crowd before the show, no one was actually bothered by the concept of a no-phone concert experience. Fans respected Madge’s desire for undivided attention to get her message(s) across — it only amplifies the intrigue, after all. Finally, a return to the Way Things Were! But be warned in advance: the confiscation doesn’t happen before the show. It happens as soon as you walk into the venue.

After a security check, representatives for Yondr instructed us to silence our phones and slip them into a locked pouch, which we carried for the night. Let’s say you were to arrive no later than 8:30 PM as instructed on the ticket, and she were to delay the show until 11 PM, as she did opening night. That’s nearly three hours of socializing – who knows? You might find love at the Madame X Tour! — or a terrifyingly long time to sit alone with your thoughts. (To be fair, if you explored the venue, there were various roped-off areas where you could unlock your phone with the assistance of an attendant and get a few last-minute hits of dopamine.)

The phone-free concept is also not entirely new: not only is it used at advance album listening parties for journalists, but comedy shows, too. (That Madonna’s manager, Guy Oseary, also manages Amy Schumer, is perhaps indicative of where they got the idea.) Still, for a concert — especially at this level of superstardom — it’s fairly radical.

The scene inside was anxious and excitable, as people, still adjusting to life outside of their screens, mingled and mocked everyone else’s phone-free behavior. One older couple, bedazzled in custom suits and Madame X eyepatches, bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t show off their outfits in the venue with pictures — normally a staple pre-show spectacle at any Madonna concert.

In short: don’t rush to get there, don’t lose your friends, bring a watch, and maybe even a book, too. Time truly does go by so slowly for those who wait.

So what lies beyond the “X” curtain? What even is this show, exactly? At the highest level, it’s a bit of a hybrid between an actual theatrical production and a concert, but looser in structure than either of the two, giving it the distinct feeling of a production with plans to shape-shift, in setlist and staging, each night on its 90+ show run.

For those who’ve been following along the Madame X ride, it should come as no surprise that the concert kicks off with a silhouette of Madonna at a typewriter, typing out a James Baldwin quote about art and the artist’s role to disturb society, starting over from scratch each time a dancer alongside her onstage gets shot.

Cue “God Control,” her happy-go-lucky disco ode to gun control — and the party begins, with Madge patriotically dressed up in founding father garb, marching with her dancers along two symmetrical stairwells which move and dismantle into various configurations throughout the show. (At times, the concept is almost reminiscent of Grace Jones’ ahead-of-its-time One Man Show from 1982.)

No one who’s ever attended a Madonna concert in the past two decades would accuse the Queen of Pop of being apolitical. The Madame X Tour is no different, and she attempts to cover all her bases, all night long.

“Fuck the patriarchy!” she snarls, kicking back at armored cops before a horn-y rendition of “Human Nature,” one of the show’s standout moments, as nagging fingers point at her from projections around the stage. She launches into an impassioned tirade about abortion after a too-brief performance of the first verse and the chorus of “Papa Don’t Preach.”

“That’s right, I made up my mind! You don’t mind if I choose what I do with my body, do you?!” she declares. She’s not challenging anyone in this crowd, of course. Staunch conservatives probably aren’t queueing up in eyepatches for The Madame X Tour. The crowd roars back in a choir of approval.

“I consider myself a freedom fighter,” she later announces.

She performs “American Life” with a guitar afterward, as torn uniforms shower down on a dancer from above the stage, concluding with a flag-draped coffin being slowly carried across the stage by soldiers.

Madonna interacts frequently with the audience between songs, at one point even sitting down in an empty seat and making small talk with one of the attendees.

“Do you come here often?” she seemingly challenged him. There was a tension in the air, as though the Queen could banish him for one wrong answer.

“For the art,” he said.

“Ah, the art… would you say I’m an artist?” “Oh, yes,” he gushed. “I like how you said that — oh, yes,” she responded back, amused. She approved, thank God, and even boldly took a sip of his beer.

Earlier in the show, Madonna took a Polaroid selfie and effectively auctioned it off to the audience, jokingly boasting about how much it’d be worth.

“Don’t get emotional,” she told one woman, as fans began to bicker for the prized picture. A wad of cash in hand got her attention – and the hand belonged to an old friend: Rosie O’Donnell. Madge pocketed the money, thanking Rosie for her contribution to Her Art, reminding the audience that she’s not making money off of her show, as each dollar goes to yet another light and yet another prop.

She also tries her hand at comedy, which she’s threatened to do ever since her Tonight Show stand-up “debut” in 2015.

“Do you know what they call a guy with a small dick?” she asked the crowd during the show’s first breather as she quick-changed onstage behind a small vanity.

“I wouldn’t know,” she finally answered. “I don’t call guys with small dicks.” Ba-dum-tss!

Parts of the show feel incredibly familiar (“American Life” is like a minimized version of her Re-Invention World Tour performance), and much of the Madame X Tour revolves around recreating her recent promotional performances, including the “Vogue” and “I Don’t Search, I Find” segment — a solid pop star-style performance from her Pride Island show. The sequence finds Madame X in secret agent mode alongside a gaggle of bewigged blonde lookalike dancers in trench coats, strutting around before being captured and interrogated, lightbulb dangling overhead and all.

“Like a Prayer” and “Dark Ballet” are essentially the same stairwell-style set up of both her Met Gala performance and her Eurovision performances, and “Medellín” was more or less a recreation of her 2019 Billboard Awards performance minus her handsome cha-cha partner Maluma – and the $5 million holograms. (He does show up, albeit green-screened into a projection, which is standard Madonna concert cameo fare.)

“Batuka,” too, is essentially the song’s music video come to life, as the women of The Batukadeiras Orchestra gather ’round in a semi-circle and pound away at drums. Madonna respectfully lends them the spotlight for a majority of the performance, sitting to the side on a stairwell before eventually joining the women to gyrate and celebrate.

In case it wasn’t obvious enough from the title, the Madame X Tour is Madame X heavy. Before one of the show’s more cohesive stretches (she welcomes us into her Fado cafe), Madonna delves into the story behind the music of her latest album, explaining her move to Portugal to become a soccer mom, finding herself bored and lonely, and rediscovering her passion and finding inspiration with the regional music wafting through the bars and living rooms of Lisbon — leading to “Crazy,” a bit of “La Isla Bonita” and even a brief cover of a Fado song, “Sodade,” by the late Cesária Évora. In a touching gesture, she is accompanied by the young grandson of a late Fado legend she encountered in her travels, Celeste Rodrigues. He plays alongside Madonna onstage — and fetches her a beer.

Madge curiously does not perform “Faz Gostoso,” a joyous fan-favorite on the new album, but does make time for the album’s most serious-faced moments, including “Extreme Occident” and “Killers Who Are Partying,” a well-intended but embarrassing dirge dedicated to taking on the pain of minority groups. (Mercifully, it goes down better in live form.)

“Future,” which was originally a medieval-meets-post-apocalyptic moment on Eurovision, is now a more muted piano piece, as images of burning forests flare up around the theater.


For a Madonna show, the Madame X Tour is surprisingly free of new visual interludes: her existing music videos for the era serve as the backdrop for the most part — and even old ones (“American Life”). The only new projection is inarguably also the show’s greatest highlight: “Frozen.”

After a line of dancers dramatically flail to the sound of sharp breaths and a spoken word verse of “Rescue Me” (so close to a live performance, yet miles away), the screen reveals a woman hunched over, her legs spread, and her hair falling over her face, The Ring-style. As the unmistakable strings of the Ray Of Light classic start to swell, Madonna appears just behind the screen. And then, the woman on the projection looks up through her hair: it’s fucking Lourdes, first daughter of The Queen, supreme heir to the throne.

A collective gasp and cheer ensues.

Beyond just being the stunning 22-year-old daughter of pop royalty, Lourdes can actually move. Madonna stays entirely still, crooning as Lola supplies an incredible interpretive dance on the screen just in front of her mother. It’s captivating. Towards the end of the song, the camera focuses on the “M-O-M” tattooed across her knuckles. It’s an absolutely iconic moment, arguably worth the price of admission alone to witness. (“This is Madonna,” one man breathlessly declared one row behind.)

That’s not the only cameo from her own brood, either: twins Estere and Stella, as well as Mercy, all get down during an acapella version of “Express Yourself” early on the show. They later return for an endearingly sassy strut during the DJ Tracy Young remix of “Crave” — a strangely injected moment of poppers o’clock beats, sequins and furs — towards the very end.

The night concludes with her Stonewall Pride anthem “I Rise,” as Madonna and her dancers leave the stage and march down the aisles, fists aloft, singing the rallying chorus over and over again. A giant rainbow flag drapes down the digital screen.

Madonna is not one for an easy ride. She’s told us as much. And “easy,” in Madonna’s case, would be putting on her usual stadium spectacle of choreography, costumes, stunts and smashes galore from an immaculate back catalog. No one does it better. But she’s got that incessant itch to scratch as an artist, and an endless craving to satisfy — to move forward, go more eccentric, and challenge herself to do things differently this time around. And yes, she’s probably doing it to annoy her fans on purpose at times.


“You’re not one of those people who comments on my Instagram and tells me I better perform Hard Candy, right?” she joked at one point. Everyone laughed, even if some of them probably are.

Go to the Madame X Tour, as a stan. You will appreciate the intimacy and unpredictable, experimental theater-esque feel of the show in comparison to what’s come for so many years before. But if you want to hear the hits, dance and capture the moments, this isn’t really the tour for you. Yes, there are a handful of classics scattered throughout — “Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” “Human Nature” — but for the most part, the Madame X Tour is a disjointed artistic expression; an impassioned mixture of politics and Portuguese based around a vaguely all-encompassing, darkness-fighting alter-ego without any one clear narrative. She is nothing if not (blonde) ambitious.

That’s not to say that elements of her major tours aren’t present in the Madame X Tour — it’s still a Madonna show, after all — but in comparison, it’s a relatively sparse and somewhat strange audience experience (do we sit, do we stand, what do we do with our hands?) — which may be even more of a draw for some fans curious to see what she does without all the bells and whistles, and with plenty of dead air during set changes to fill with actual audience interactions.

In the absence of sensory overload and digital distractions, there’s room for Madonna to breathe and evolve as a performer in a new kind of way — and, presumably, to grow.

Madame X is a cha cha instructor. A professor. An equestrian. A saint. A whore. And still a work in progress.
More at Papermag
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Concert Review: Madonna’s ‘Madame X’ Is a Political Spectacle and a Test of Fans’ Indulgence (even more press pictures!)

“Stop raping the matriarchy!” Madonna, clad in a sequin-encrusted Revolutionary war costume, shouted to the sold-out crowd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House on Thursday night. Like the Madame X character she crafted for her 14th album, the Madonna who has opted for a theater residency after 37 years of touring stadiums and arenas is playing with multiple dualities. And like the alter-egos at the center of the album that dominates the concert, the show itself has a range of identities: at times it’s performance art, a political rally, a comedy show, a church and even her home in Lisbon, which inspired the record. And Madonna is everything from a political activist and a spy to a comedian and a “cha-cha” dancer on the stage. So why not mix sequins with a getup Thomas Jefferson might have sported while trying to protect women’s rights?

As she never really lets you forget, Madonna is calling the shots with “Madame X,” this show and plenty else besides. And for her, that means attempting to use her privilege and power to enact change while still owning her artistry, even if it is inexplicable at times.

(Photo: Stufish)

Like the first two nights of Madonna’s residency — which opened Tuesday but waited till Thursday to invite the press — attendees were required to lock up their phones for the entirety of the two-hour-plus performance. “I’m not here to be loved — I’m here to be free,” she says during the show, and part of that freedom apparently means not being photographed on anyone’s cellphone. Still, she knows the rule is controversial, so she takes the opportunity to auction off one Polaroid selfie she takes on stage to an audience member for $1,000 (on opening night, the buyer was Rosie O’Donnell).

Another part of being free is playing a set focused on the present and dominated by new material, as she has done for most of her tours in recent years. While longtime fans were probably prepared for this, it’s almost cruel: The few songs from Madge’s earlier career that she performs, including “Express Yourself” and “Papa Don’t Preach,” are largely cut to under a minute, while her “Madame X” tracks are performed in full. One couldn’t help but get the sense that the words in her recent song “Future” rang true for some members of the audience: “Not everybody’s coming to the future.”

(Photo: Stufish)

The present Madonna is also 61, and the move from stadiums and arenas to a more intimate setting reflects that as well. She’s more than capable of dancing, but the demanding routines and choreography that a stadium tour would require may be off the table. Instead, the set is steeped in political commentary. For the opening of the set, she provides another duality: a James Baldwin credo and gunshots to introduce her anti-firearm disco anthem “God Control,” which sees the pop icon prompting the audience to “wake up.” Soon enough, she’s taken on an espionage persona in “I Don’t Search I Find” with a noir-style narrative where the vocoder is an interrogation tool and is hiding in plain sight as a blonde-bombshell spy with “Vogue.” Later she becomes a Lisbon club singer, putting her own spin on Portuguese genre “fado” backed by the guitarra-playing grandson of late fado singer Celeste Rodrigues, Gaspar Varela, and invite a group of batuque musicians to support her for “Batuka.”

Whether it’s more sequins — on nun garb during a choir-backed performance of “Like a Prayer” — or altering her famous lyric “I’m keeping my baby” to “I’m not keeping my baby” on “Papa Don’t Preach,” even the small moments of nostalgia are brought into the “Madame X” era and ethos. Yet, the most undeniably striking moment of the evening was a performance of “Frozen” where the legend sat inside a black and white hologram of her daughter Lourdes reimagining the song’s 1998 music video, bringing the stirring ballad into the present.

(Photo: Stufish)

Of course, Madonna’s fight for “freedom” comes with creative risks. Some, like “Frozen,” pay off. Others are clunky, like when she does the Hustle in the aforementioned Revolutionary War costume during “God Control” while being bounced between two police officers’ shields. She touts female empowerment in unusual ways, with lines like “This is what it’s like to have Mozart coming out of my pussy,” getting the audience to chant “I’m not sorry,” and having her young daughter Esther declaring #Time’s Up to the audience.

By the end of the evening, the themes reach a closure: The show’s early gunshots are answered by a rallying cry for community with “I Rise,” which begins with an excerpt of a recorded speech by Parkland shooting survivor and activist Emma González. It’s Madonna’s warrior stance — one that includes exiting the stage via the aisle with an all-female choir.

And with that, a show full of extremes — and that, on its three opening nights, began at nearly 11 p.m. and ended after 1 a.m — comes to an end. Earlier in the evening Madonna turned on the charm and apologized for the lateness. “I’m sorry to keep you waiting tonight,” she smiled. “I have a lot of wigs. I have six kids. I’ll never do it again.” And once this tour concludes, she probably won’t — at least not at an opera house in Brooklyn.

(Photo: Ricardo Gomes)

More at Variety

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Madame X Tour backstage tour report (BAM opening night NY)

The Medellin VIP package included a backstage tour at the BAM in New York as well. Here are a few details of the backstage tour on opening night.

People were taken on a tour around and on the stage while security came along for the trip. Everyone was informed on Madonna’s routine, rehearsals and the process of creating the show. Madonna makes long hours and there were over a hundred run-through’s of the entire show before the audience got to finally see it. Madonna pays attention to every little detail, for example if she is dissatisfied with a zipper on a specific costume it has to be replaced at once. Madonna doesn’t arrive at the theater before 4 or 5pm and sometimes carries on working until 6am the following morning.

On this occassion there were no dancers around to meet, but some of the musicians were present. All of the instruments were stored there as the entire show is 100% live music. They were also shown the little booth where Madonna changes costumes during the show. Also a sneak peek behind a curtain at the costumes, shoes and various props.

The fans present were also treated to the setlist already as it was displayed backstage.

Thank you to Wendy Gardien for the report!

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Madonna brings freewheeling intimacy to Madame X tour

“You guys know who Madame X is by now, right?” Madonna asked the crowd midway through her set last night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, her diamanté eyepatch glinting in the stage lights. “She’s an equestrian, a head of state, a cha cha instructor, a whore, a saint.”

She’s also Madonna Louise Ciccone, of course, and she is an entertainer; a job she’s held, essentially without pause, for nearly four decades. Though never quite as happy-go-loosely as she seems to be doing at this limited series of shows: a freewheeling two hours and 15 minutes of song and dance and conversation in a 2,000-seat venue so intimate, she might stop to steal a sip of your beer — which she did more than once, from a bedazzled fan.

It’s called the Madame X Tour, so it’s not surprising that the evening pulls largely from that album, her 14th, released this past June. But Madonna is nothing if not a canny keeper of her own flame, and several stone classics from her catalog made their way into the setlist, as well as several lesser but still beloved (particularly to this self-selected crowd) hits.

For nearly every “God Control” and “Killers Who Are Partying” from X, there was a segue to the past: “Dark Ballet” into 1995’s “Human Nature,” in which she spun herself like a gymnastic clock inside a circular wall inset, or “I Don’t Search I Find” yielding to a spare reprise of “Papa Don’t Preach,” its circa-1986 chorus defiantly changed to “I’m not keeping my baby,” and followed by a short, fierce disquisition on reproductive rights.

Though some two dozen songs manage to appear in whole or in part, she often stopped to interact during costume changes or between numbers, confiding that moving to Lisbon to become a soccer mom (her son David attended an intensive sports academy there) had left her bored and lonely, and then led her to the city’s fado clubs; dropping dirty jokes (“Amy Schumer told me to tell that one, so if you don’t like it, blame her”); and even dipping into the audience more than once for a get-to-know-you chat (Carol the accountant and Dan from Clapham, you live among immortals now).

As befitting an artist who has spent so much of her career exploring other cultures, there were touches of them everywhere: Gaspar Varela, the young grandson of fado legend Celeste Rodrigues, guesting on guitar; the all-female singing troupe from the island-nation of Cape Verde, known for centuries as a hub of the transatlantic slave trade, who joined her, joyfully, on the rhythmic celebration “Batuka.” A rotating cast of gorgeous multi-culti dancers and musicians appeared in everything from nun’s habits (for the string section) and Midsommar chic (white gowns, flower crowns) to something like Stork Club meets Latin disco (much of the show’s back half).

She paired those somewhat tangentially with her own costume changes, emerging first in winking, Dolly Parton-on-the-Potomac camp (Revolutionary War via 10,000 rhinestones) before morphing into various other looks: femme fatale trench coat with Veronica Lake hair; glitter-bombed Amadeus; a sort of couture Ice Capades in fluttery navy tulle. She drily apologized, too, for the show’s tardy start time, at nearly 11pm: “I have an injury. I have six children. I have a lot of wigs.”

It was her family, actually, who provided some of the night’s most genuinely moving moments — a rare glimpse of domestic life transported to the stage when her seven-year-old twins, Stella and Estere, joined her for a giddy snatch of group choreography, and teenage daughter Mercy slung her arm around her mother’s neck for an acapella “Express Yourself” singalong.

Most striking though was a full scrim late in the show that projected a black-and-white video of a dancer veiled in long curtains of dark hair, which lifted to reveal her firstborn, 22-year-old Lourdes. A trick of stagecraft allowed Madonna to sing her shimmering 1998 ballad “Frozen” both to her daughter and from inside her; the moment was mesmerizing, and exquisitely tender.

The show is hardly without flaws: her political messaging, though heartfelt, is often clumsily on the nose, and several set projections leaned toward the community-theater end of things. But in moments like these, when the construct of Madame X disappeared, what remained was something simpler and somehow much more satisfying than the equestrian or the cha-cha instructor or the saint (or even the mother, the magpie, the erstwhile standup comedian): Not just a pop star and perennial provocateur, but an artist in full.

More at EntertainmentWeekly

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Why Madonna’s Madame X Tour Is the Gloriously Insane Mess of Your Dreams

Madonna has never shied away from taking chances. Thirty years after she set fire to the Eighties with the disco basilica Like a Prayer, she’s as gloriously weird as ever. Hence her excellent new Madame X tour, a testament to the genius in her madness. Instead of a full-blown tour, she’s doing these shows as residencies in intimate venues, starting with 17 nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House. The tiny rooms are the perfect place for Our Lady to strut her stuff. Like her Madame X album, the show is messy, but anyone who’s scared of a mess should avoid Ms. Ciccone entirely, because as any fan knows, her weirdness is where she finds her greatness.

The show follows Madonna’s adventures around the globe. “Everybody knows I moved to Lisbon to become a soccer mom,” she said on Thursday night. “I found myself alone, without friends, a little bit bored.” So after too many Sundays at her son’s soccer games, she started going out to Lisbon clubs and flipped for Portugal’s fado rhythms, which got her creative juices flowing again. As she announced, “From now on, I’m Madame X and Madame X loves to dance!”

The show started extremely late — she didn’t go on until nearly 11 p.m., which she kept joking about all night. “Forgive me if I kept you waiting too long this evening,” Madonna purred seductively, stretched out on top of a piano. “I don’t like to keep you waiting. But I have an injury. I have six kids. I have a LOT of wigs.” Then she had a couple of her dancers help her off the piano and improvised a pop melody: “I bet you had more sleep than meeee!” No rest for the wicked, indeed.

It was a cellphone-free show, with the audience’s phones locked into Yondr pouches that got unsealed at the end of the night. (Honestly, all shows should be this way.) Madonna kept mentioning how much she enjoyed looking into the audience and seeing our eyes as opposed to screens. “The eyes are the window of the soul. But there’s one window you’re forgetting.” She opened her legs, to a blast of orchestral music. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it’s like to have Mozart coming out of your pussy! I am one classy broad!”

The Madame X songs work much better in a theater setting — the album has always felt more like a soundtrack to a stage spectacle, an Original Cast Recording, than an actual listening experience. She had a small army of dancers, plus scene-stealing musicians like trumpeter Jessica Pina and cellist Mariko Muranaka. One of the highlights came early on: “Human Nature,” one of her most enduringly great Nineties hits. She turned it into a stripped-down confession, writhing athletically before doing a bongo solo. It ended with Madonna surrounded by 11 black women — including three of her daughters, Stella, Estere and Mercy James — chanting, “I’m not your bitch!” Madonna yelled at the end, “Have we made ourselves cleeeear?” Just in case, she handed the mic to the very young Stella, who said, “Hashtag #TimesUp!” For good measure, the ladies sang an a cappella chorus of “Express Yourself.”

The show opens with a motto from James Baldwin: “Art is here to prove that all safety is an illusion…Artists are here to disturb the peace.” Fighting words, but Madonna lived up to them in “God Control,” an elaborate production number with cops attacking the dancers under a video montage of news footage. Points were made, including gun control, police brutality and why Madonna doesn’t approve of smoking dope.

Her comic banter was as stellar as the music — she was loose, salty, spontaneous, thriving on her closeness with the crowd. At one point, she crashed in a vacant seat next to a London fan named Dan, flirted, drank his beer, apologized for going on so late, drank more of his beer (“I come from a long line of alcoholics”) and then said, “Dan, you’ve been a great crowd, but I need to get on with my journey.” As she explained, “Freedom is the theme of this show. And the theme of my life, for that matter.”

Madonna performs at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in Brooklyn New York on September 17th 2019. Photo Ric Lipson

The night’s two big emotional powerhouses came near the end. She sang “Frozen” all alone, visible behind a video screen of her eldest daughter Lourdes doing an interpretive dance, with her “MOM” knuckle tattoo. It was a beautifully simple moment — just the singer, the daughter and that song, a show-stopper from the album (Ray of Light) where she fully embraced her hippie-mama spirituality. It also demonstrated that for all her love of theatrical excess, she’s a singer before she’s anything else. The night climaxed with a full-choir “Like a Prayer,” a moment that felt sacred yet also sleazy — the ultimate Madonna combination.

Madame X has the global sprawl of her 2001 Drowned World Tour, which this fan would definitely have to pick as her best live show ever. She included a a fantastic fado interlude, starring the Portuguese guitarra of 16-year-old Gaspar Varela. Madonna sang a fado chestnut made famous by his great-grandmother, the late Celeste Rodrigues. There was also a showcase of Batuque musicians from Cape Verde, the all-female Orquestra Batukadeiras, working a centuries-old percussive tradition. She picked up her guitar to cover the Cesária Évora classic “Sodade” — a fangirl moment very much in the Madonna tradition, because what makes her a pop genius is the way she moves so fluidly between fangirling and creating her own art. It echoed her last tour, when she covered Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” which somehow wound up as Lady Gaga’s big drag-show performance in A Star Is Born. (Don’t be surprised if “Sodade” shows up in Gaga’s next Oscar-winning film?)

As always, she focused on new material, doing almost all of the erratic Madame X. (Alas, not “Bitch I’m Loca.”) But the most powerful moments came when she revamped her classics. “Vogue” became a B-movie fantasia with a troop of femme fatales in a black-and-white film noir cityscape, wearing blonde wigs, shades and trench coats. She strummed “La Isla Bonita” as a guitar cha-cha. “This is my striptease right here,” she announced. “This is as X-rated as it’s gonna get tonight.” Then she peeled off one glove, in homage to Rita Hayworth in Gilda and Natalie Wood in Gypsy. One of the night’s big musical surprises: “American Life,” which holds up remarkably well, as she vented her eccentric political rage with Mirwais Ahmadzaï’s vintage Francodisco frisson.

The stronger songs from Madame X came alive in this setting — especially “Extreme Occident,” “Crave” and “Crazy,” where she dropped to her knees before one of her dancers and sang, “I bend my knees for you like a prayer,” a foretaste of the “Like a Prayer” climax to come. She did “Medellin” with a video boost from Maluma. She did just one verse of “Papa Don’t Preach,” as an excuse to change the key line to “I’ve made up my mind / I’m not keeping my baby.” (The song could have used that tweak back in 1986, but better late.)

The crowd was camp as Christmas and twice as loud, gathering Madonna worshippers from all over the world, dressed to the nines. Shout out to the silver fox rocking his vintage “Frankie Say Relax” T-shirt. (Bet he’s the same guy wearing that shirt in the new Beastie Boys Book, in the photo of fans outside their 1985 NYC show as Madonna’s opening act.)

In some ways, this show is Madonna’s version of Springsteen on Broadway, scaling down to an intimate theatrical setting to tell one account of her life story. It’s yet another bond for these two oddly linked legends, who’ve been topping charts together since the days when Like a Virgin went up against Born in the U.S.A. In June, Madonna’s latest concept album debuted the same week as Bruce’s Western Stars cowboy trip, giving them the Number One and Two albums. How gratifying that these two Eighties icons are not only still topping the charts, they’re doing it with their wildest, most experimental work. We chose well when we picked these two as our heroes, right? As Madame X proves, Madonna will never be the kind of superstar who repeats her successes, sticks to her strengths, or plays it safe. Instead, she’s getting weirder with age. Thank all the angels and saints for that.

Set list:

“God Control”
“Dark Ballet”
“Human Nature”
“I Don’t Search I Find”
“Papa Don’t Preach”
“American Life”
“Fado Pechincha”
“Killers Who Are Partying”
“La Isla Bonita”
“Extreme Occident”
“Come Alive”
“Like a Prayer”
“I Rise”

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As Madame X, Madonna Is Her Most Authentic Onstage Self In Years

The joy of being a Madonna fan is that she’s a true artist, an incisive creative eye who embeds meaning and shades of emotional grey into her work; the other great thing about being a Madonna fan is that she’s an artist who also happens to be a pop star. So when she has something to say, it’s in the details, yes — but wait long enough and it’ll also be bludgeoned over your head. 

“Freedom is the theme of this show,” Madonna told an enthralled, intimate crowd at the Thursday (Sept. 19) night show of her Madame X Tour at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. “And the theme of my life, for that matter.”

She might have explicitly spelled out her mission statement during the show, but when it kicked off just before 11pm ET, she eased into the theme with a characteristically unabashed mixture of high art and high camp. As a silhouetted typist hammered out a James Baldwin quote at a desk, a lithe dancer mimed dodging bullets, eventually succumbing to the barrage. After that, Madonna hit the stage, staring out from beneath a Revolutionary War-style tricorn hat as a battered American flag fluttered via video projection. There probably isn’t a more deliciously kitschy way to introduce a show speaking to what personal freedom — and danger — means to the America-born pop artist.

The first song, Madame X’s lush disco standout “God Control,” turned the focus from national mythology to personal history, demonstrating exactly where Madonna found her freedom — on the sweaty floors of New York City discotheques in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s — and how she sees it, quite literally, under fire (the gunshot-punctuated musical odyssey explicitly nods to the 2016 Pulse massacre). 

From there, the Madame X Tour moves on to other freedoms she sees under duress: The freedom to act and the freedom to speak. With regards to the former, “Dark Ballet” found her playing out the persecution of Joan of Arc surrounded by a visually compelling mixture of Christian iconography and pagan pageantry, while a cool jazz take on “Human Nature” fulfilled the latter, allowing her the opportunity to tell-off critics projecting their hang-ups on a woman who dares speak of sex without a coquettish blush (while treating the crowd to a spread eagle that would put Veronica and Charlie to shame). 

In the midst of an a cappella “Express Yourself,” Madonna brought out three of her children — Stella, Estere and Mercy James — to shimmy with the dancers and read a few quotes of empowerment she’d provided for them. Later in the show, eldest daughter Lourdes arrived for the highlight of the evening, dwarfing even her mother. Well, only literally speaking. While stark, three-story-high footage of Lourdes dancing played on a translucent screen in front of her, Madonna delivered a soul-scraping rendition of her 1998 classic “Frozen.” Seeing the Queen of Pop, illuminated by a pinprick of light, engulfed in her daughter’s dancing was a visually stunning moment in an evening full of them.

Madonna performs onstage during Pride Island - WorldPride NYC 2019 at Pier 97 on June 30, 2019 in New York City. 

Another unexpected setlist choice (well, at least for those who didn’t catch her incendiary Pride Island performance) arrived via “American Life,” the unjustly maligned title track from her 2003 album (which was more a victim of the politically paranoid era than any creative deficiency on her part). Her arms snaking above her head as she ran down the list of capitalist concessions that fail to satisfy, Madonna looked exceptionally invested during this glitchpop gem — probably because this is one throwback song she hasn’t delivered ad infinitum.

That fresh, loose (okay, loose for a notorious control freak like Madge) attitude permeated most of her Madame X songs — which were the lion’s share of the setlist. Naturally, that was bad for anyone expecting a greatest-hits parade, but excellent for those open-minded enough to turn off their phones, their expectations and allow an artist they trust and adore the freedom to indulge in what’s getting her off at the moment. 

After moving to Lisbon for her son’s soccer aspirations, she’s currently inspired by the music she heard there: Fado, morna, salsa and more. Aside from playing the Madame X tracks that dabble in those genres, her non-album original song “Welcome to My Fado Club” (mashed-up with “La Isla Bonita”) gave her a chance to moonlight as the beguiling hostess of a hole-in-the-wall Latin club, which — considering her affection for Golden Era Hollywood — is certainly within her wheelhouse. But unlike most ‘40s productions on a Beverly Hills lot, Madonna bothered to include the authentic talents she was paying homage to, bringing out Gaspar Varela, the grandson of fado singer Celeste Rodrigues (whom she sang with prior to the legend’s 2018 passing), for several numbers, in addition to an all-female orchestra from Cape Verde for her rousing, thunderous Madame X highlight “Batuka.” 

“I’m not worried about being popular,” Madonna told the crowd (which, to be fair, was hanging on her every word) near the end of the show. For the Madame X Tour, she means it. At BAM Thursday night, the would-be soccer mom was free of set list demands, time constraints (she took the stage late and skillfully bantered with the audience as long as she felt like it) and the impersonal glow of an arena-full of cell phones desperate to capture a 30-second snippet for a social account. 

The Madame X persona might be a spy, a teacher, a saint, a whore, a cha cha instructor and a mother, but she’s also something not listed in the album lines notes — she’s a more authentic version of Madonna Veronica Louise Ciccone than we’ve seen on stage in some time.

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Review: Madonna amazing at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in New York

The “Queen of Pop” Madonna headlined the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York, which was part of her “Madame X” Tour. She will wrap up her residency on October 12.

While she did take the stage over an hour late, Madonna proved that she is still at the top of her game musically. The venue had a no cell phone policy, and rightfully so since it afforded people the opportunity to be in the moment, and none of the concert footage was leaked online.
She kicked off her set with the raw and unflinching “God Control,” which had a neat orchestral arrangement to it. She immediately broke into the nonchalant “Dark Ballet” and “Human Nature.” A fan-favorite song of the night was her throwback hit “Express Yourself,” which was utterly fantastic.
In the second act, Madonna performed such smash hits as “Vogue” and “Papa Don’t Preach,” as well as the newer song “I Don’t Search I Find” from her Madame X album; moreover, “American Life” was very relevant and significant in the times that we are living in today, and she did a glorious job on this tune.

The third act featured the album’s lead single “Medellín,” as well as the newer tracks “Crazy,” “Killers Who Are Partying” and “Batuka.” The inclusion of the melodically-stunning “La Isla Bonita” was an added treat. Madonna’s voice is still resonant, crystalline and heavenly.

The highlight song of the night was “Frozen,” which is this journalist’s all-time favorite Madonna song in her illustrious catalog of hits. It was very expressive and the production was a true work of art. She closed her show with “Come Alive” and “Future.”

The pop superstar returned for an encore that included a badass version of Tracy Young’s remix of “Crave,” which was sheer bliss. Her signature song “Like a Prayer” became the anthem for the night and it earned her a lengthy standing ovation. If that weren’t enough, she returned for yet another encore, which included the empowering “I Rise,” where she left her fans yearning for more.

The Verdict

Overall, Madonna put on an amazing live show at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in the heart of Brooklyn. She is still the “Queen of Pop” and shows no signs of relinquishing that throne anytime soon. She is a true visionary, whose music and artistry gets bigger and better each year.

The BAM Howard Gilman Opera House was a warm, intimate and beautiful venue for a concert of this caliber. Her live show garnered an A rating.

Her Madame X album is available on Apple Music, and it earned a favorable review from Digital Journal.

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Madonna kicks off ‘Madame X Tour’ but this time in a very intimate set-up

Madonna’s Madame X Tour kick-started with the BAM concert in New York.

Madonna has always been associated with grandeur. Fans were accustomed to seeing her larger-than-life live singing persona in colossal stadiums and arenas till this tour, where Madonna made a significant change. From cosmic areas, she chose the intimate Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House, which can accommodate only 2000+ people, to kick-start her ‘Madame X Tour’ this Tuesday.

The small capacity of the place didn’t stop fans from ushering into the theatre to witness the greatness of live Madonna. Based on the fans’ accounts, the house was completely packed. Fans were requested to arrive by 8:30 while following the tradition, Madonna was expected to arrive by 9:30, which got delayed by an hour, keeping with the tradition, the icon arrived on stage, not before 10:45 PM. But that didn’t deter the spirit of fans, who were waiting for the Queen of Pop to set the stage on fire.

And Madonna sure did, the 61-year-old icon greeted the crowd with her anti-gun anthem from her Madame X Album, ‘God Control’ throwing everyone in frenzy.

The concert followed a strict no-cellphone/recording policy. With the entry into the premises, fans were handed pouches to seal their phones in it and to be used only after the show or at assigned phone stations outside the theatre.

The choice of venue wasn’t just a creative move, but a calculative move as Madonna is not her younger self now who could indulge in the intense choreography and movements that large arena stages require.

Amidst, singing ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ to the crowd, entertaining it with her wit and changing costumes, she exclaimed about the cozy venue that she has had never done it before in her entire career. Dark Ballet, Express Yourself, Vogue, American Life, Come Alive, and Like A Prayer, were some of the songs that Madonna performed for the crowd.

The Tour that began in Brooklyn will visit Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, and Miami, and conclude the North American run on December 22.

Read more at MorningPicker

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A Look at Madonna’s Too Faced Makeup Kits

Madonna — aka Madame X — has collaborated with Too Faced on a limited-edition makeup collection.

The line is already sold out on the Too Faced website — but it is available through today at the Madame X / Live Nation pop-up shop at 430 W 15 Street, and on Madonna’s website, while supplies last.

The makeup line’s launch coincided with the start of Madonna’s Madame X tour on September 17, and includes two kits — sold for $75 each.  

Too Faced founder, Jerrod Blandino posted on Instagram, “Madonna & I created 2 box sets based on the looks she’s wearing on stage!” 

I Rise collection includes an exclusive eyeshadow & blush palette, Better Than Sex Mascara, Melted Matte In “sell out nude”, and a chocolate brow defining brow pencil. 

The Medellin collection includes an exclusive eyeshadow & highlighter palette, Damn Girl! Mascara, Melted Matte In “Lady Balls red”, and Better Than Sex liquid eyeliner.

Both palettes are paperboard, and are decorated with images of Madonna.

Photos above are from the pop-up shop. 


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Madame X Tour Credits (as published on

Created and directed by Madonna
Jamie King – Creative Producer
Megan Lawson – Co-Director and Lead Choreographer
Damien Jalet – Creative Advisor
Luigi Murenu & Iango Henzi – Creative Consultants
Carla Kama – Associate Creative Producer
Tiffany Olson – Associate Creative Producer
Stephanie Roos – Associate Creative Producer
Al Gurdon – Lighting Designer
Stufish Entertainment Architects – Set Design

Kevin Antunes – Musical Director
Monte Pittman – Guitar
Gaspar Goncalves – Guitar
Rickey Pageot – Piano, Accordion & Percussion
Jessica Pina – Trumpet & Background Vocalist
Ademiro “Miroca” Paris – Percussion & Guitar
Carlos Mil-Homens – Percussion
Francesca Dardani – Violin
Celia Hatton – Viola
Mariko Muranaka – Cello
Andrea “Munchie” Lanz – Background Vocalist
Dana “Yazarah” Williams – Background Vocalist

Ahlamalik Williams – Dancer
Marvin Gofin – Dancer
Mccall Olsen – Dancer
Baylie Olsen – Dancer
Allaune Blegbo – Dancer
Sasha Mallory – Dancer
Loic Mabanza – Dancer
Daniele Sibili – Dancer
Sierra Herrera-Grey – Dancer
Chaz Buzan – Dancer
Nicolas Huchard – Dancer
Ai Shimatsu – M Stand In

Jussara Spencer
Anastacia Carvalho
Edna Oliveira
Jessica Eliane Tavares
Irina Paula Carvalho
Darlene Barreto
Catia Ramos
Antonia Tavares
Keila Cabral
Ellah Barbosa
Iara Xavier Santos
Jacira Duarte
Etelvina “Bianina” Tavares
Idilsa Tavares

Megan Lawson
Matt Cady
Marvin Gofin
Damien Jalet
Nicolas Huchard
Baylie Olsen
Mccall Olsen
Ahlamalik Williams
Derrell Bullock

Nicolas Huchard
Amilios Arapoglou
Sierra Herrera
Allaune Blegbo

Eyob Yohannes – Costume Designer
Taryn Shumway – Assistant Costume Designer
Timothy Chernyaev – Assistant Costume Designer
Mae Heidenreich – Assistant Costume Designer
Aliyah Christmas – Assistant Costume Designer
Amanda Kai – Costume Department Coordinator
Samuel Ososki – Tailor
Michael Velasquez – Tailor
Anthony Garcia – Tailor
Kenberly Pierre-Paul – Costume Assistant
Raquel Castellanos – Assistant
Joya Cleveland – Costume Accounts
Robert Christie – Costume Sketcher
Lisa Krizner-George – Cutter
Thayne Whitney – Stitcher/Patternmaker
Ke Cindy – Seamstress
Teri Lloyd – Seamstress
Sandra Nieto – Seamstress
Ivanova Mariano – Seamstress
Mallory Rinker – Seamstress
Olga Kim – Tailoring
Izabella Litvak – Tailoring
Aris Bordo – Tailoring
Noelle Rasco – Stitching
Arielle Crawford – Stitching
Anna Kate Reep – Stitching
Brandon Brinkley – Shopper
Alexa O’neil – Shopper
Toni Grant – Shopper
Lucy Gaston – Shopper
Lauren Lau – Shopper
Aran Simi – Costume Intern
Geraldine Henriques – Costume Intern
Toni Grant – Costume Intern
Luis Fereira – Costume Intern
Catherine Goba – Costume Intern

Arthur Fogel – Tour Promoter and Producer
Gerry Barad – Associate Promoter
Tres Thomas – Tour Director
Rick Sobkowiak – Tour Accountant and Operations
Colleen Cozart – Production Accountant
Tiffany Hilliard – Assistant to Arthur Fogel
Staci Saari – Ticketing
Cynthia Oknaian – Ticketing
Sherine Sherman – VIP Program Coordinator
Brian Samuelson – VIP Program Coordinator

Andy Lecompte – Hair Stylist for Madonna
Aaron Henrikson – Make-Up Artist for Madonna
Jean-Michel Ete – Nutritionist
Tarin Graham – Esthetician
Marlyn Ortiz – Madonna’s Trainer
Hind Abdul Jabbar, Rita Melssen – Assistants to Madonna
Jill McCutchan – Tour Manager
Tori Fillat – Assistant Tour Manager
Travis Dorsey – Chef
Natalia Dyduch – Housekeeper
Ricardo Gomes – Social Media
Jeremy Childs – Road Manager
Tony Villanueva – Head Dresser
Diogo Goncalves – Assistant
Corvett Hunt – Hair Stylist
Kamilah Gerestant – Braider
Justin Heslop – Makeup Artist

Jason “JD” Danter – Production Manager
Brian Wares – Stage Manager
Mike Morobitto – Theatrical Stage Manager
Emma Cederblad – Production Coordinator
Justin Mcquown – Director of Security
Carla Vagland – Venue Security
Harry Forster – Lighting Director
Oli James – Lighting Crew Cheif
James Jones III – Lighting Tech
Mike Rothwell – Lighting Tech
Dave Baxter – Lighting Tech
Matt Levine – Lighting Tech
Jason “Lew Lew” Lewis – Rigger
Sean Mullarkey – Automation
Rod “Rawd” Van Egmond – Head Carpenter
Allen “A.J.” Haley – Carpenter
Eric Cardoza – Props/Carpenter
Tim Colvard – FOH Engineer
Demetrius Moore – M Audio Tech
Sean Spuehler – Vocal Mix Engineer
Lauren D’elia – Vocal Mix Engineer
Matt Napier – Monitor Engineer
Alistair “Ali” Viles – RF/Audio Engineer
Lee Fox-Furnell – Monitor Tech
Arno Voortman – Audio System Engineer
Robert “Bongo” Longo – Head Backline Tech (Keys)
Tommy Simpson – Backline Tech (Strings)
Iain “Robbo” Robertson – Backline Tech (Drums/Percussion)
Dan Roe – Programmer
Gemma Daly – Ambiance
Allison Sulock – Video Server Tech
Dany Lambert – Video Projectionist
Heken “Mel” Dykes – Wardrobe Supervisor
Candice Lawrence – Wardrobe
Noriko Kakihara – Wardrobe
Michael Velasquez – Tailor
John Spink – Merchandise

Danny Tull – Video Content Director
Nuno Xico – Editor
Russ Senzatimore – Editor
Tom Watson – Editor
Jerry Chia – Editor
Ryan Drake – Editor
Hamish Lyons – Editor

Guy Oseary – Manager
Sara Zambreno – Manager
Danielle Doll – Mgmt. Coordinator
Maria Jose Gutierrez Reyes – Mgmt. Coordinator
Rachel Gordh – Assistant to Guy Oseary
Johann Delebarre – Webmaster

Bruce Fingeret
Alyssa Tobias
Pete Weber
Ben Rawling

Anya Lange

Ricardo Gomes
Steven Klein

Elizabeth Manuel, Prada, Miu Miu, Burberry, Versace, Paula Rowan (Gloves), Mugler, Agent Provocateur

London Fog, Doc Martens, Zana Bayne, Levi’s, Ray Bans, Dsquared, Converse, Adidas, Starter, Arel Studios, John Kristiansen, Mio Design NYC, A Perdifiato


Taken from MADONNA.COM

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Madonna Enlists Her Kids — and Rosie O’Donnell! — for Madame X Tour Kickoff in Brooklyn

Madonna made the kickoff to her intimate Madame X theater tour a family affair.

For the first of her 17 shows Brooklyn’s BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, the singer, 61, had three of her children — Mercy James, 13, and twin daughters Estere and Stelle, 6 — appear onstage to lead the sold-out crowd into a sing-a-long of Madonna’s 1989 anthem “Express Yourself.”

And during her performance of her 1997 classic “Frozen,” the Material Girl was joined by her eldest child, 22-year-old daughter Lourdes, who appeared digitally via a video projection, dancing to the song.

Also in the room were Madonna’s good friends Rosie O’DonnellAnderson Cooper, Spike Lee and Debi Mazar. O’Donnell even factored into the show: When Madonna took a selfie with a Polaroid camera and offered it to the highest bidder in the room, the actress and comedian walked onstage to offer her cash.

For her Madame X tour debut, Madonna enforced a strict no-cellphone policy that had attendees seal away their devices in pouches that were unlocked at the end of the performance.

The only two photos from the tour that have been released were posted by the singer herself on her Instagram page. “Madame X thanks you for coming,” she captioned the shots showing her in a dark wig. “So Happy to finally have an audience!”

Madonna’s longtime manager Guy Oseary posted a backstage photo after the show, showing Madonna alongside filmmaker JR, O’Donnell, Mazar, Lee and Cooper. “The show was so good!! Congrats to the incredible Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone,” he captioned the pic. “You were amazing!!!”


The setlist leaned heavily on tracks from her latest album, but also included classics like “Human Nature,” “Vogue” and “Like a Prayer.”

The tour includes multiple shows at the BAM throughout September and October, plus a short residency at the Chicago Theatre in Chicago in October, then another at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theater in November.

Dates at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston, the Met Philadelphia, and the Jackie Gleason Theatre at the Fillmore Miami Beach will also stretch through December.

Come January, Madonna will head to Europe for shows in Lisbon, Portugal, London, and Paris.

Madame X, her first album since 2015, sees the Grammy winner shedding her famous persona in favor of an alter ego, which she has described as a “secret agent traveling around the world, changing identities, fighting for freedom, bringing light to dark places” in a promotional Instagram video.

The “Like a Virgin” singer has so far dropped the singles “Medellín,” with Colombian reggaeton star Maluma, “Crave,” and “I Rise.”

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Madonna clear vinyl Rhino re-issues pre-order (links available)

The upcoming clear vinyl re-issues are now also up for pre-order through Click on the product of your choice below to order.

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Madonna Is Still Taking Chances – Live Review by The New York Post

“I’m not here to be popular. I’m here to be free,” Madonna declared to a packed, adoring audience on Tuesday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House. It was the premiere of her Madame X tour, named after the album she released in June that she has said was influenced by the music in Lisbon, her adopted home. The show follows her decades of arena spectacles by scaling the same kind of razzle-dazzle — dancers! costumes! video! choir! — for a theater stage.

Unlike jukebox musicals or “Springsteen on Broadway,” Madame X is a concert focusing on new songs and the present moment. In other words, Madonna is still taking chances. She will reach arena-size attendance in only a handful of venues on the eight-city tour, but with much longer engagements; the Gilman Opera House holds 2,098, and she booked 17 shows there, through Oct. 12. Onstage, “selling” a selfie Polaroid to an audience member who happened to be Rosie O’Donnell, she claimed, “I’m not making a dime on this show.”

Concertgoers arrived to what was billed as a phone-free experience. Cellphones and smart watches were locked into bags at the door, though quickly unlocked afterward. It helped prevent online spoilers; it certainly removed the distractions of waving screens. (No photography was permitted, including press.)


Yes, she is 61, but her music remains determinedly contemporary, with the drum-machine sounds of trap, collaborations with hip-hop vocalists (Quavo and Swae Lee, shown on video) and the bilingual, reggaeton-flavored Latin pop sometimes called urbano (with the Colombian singer Maluma, also shown on video). The concert, with most of its music drawn from the “Madame X” album, was packed with pronouncements, symbols and enigmatic vignettes to frame the songs. Madonna often wore an eye patch with an X on it, no doubt a challenge to her depth perception as a dancer.

By the time Madonna had completed just the first two songs, she had already presented an epigraph from James Baldwin — “Artists are here to disturb the peace” — that was knocked out onstage by one of the concert’s recurring figures, a woman (sometimes Madonna herself) at a typewriter.

Gunshots introduced “God Control,” which moves from bitter mourning about gun deaths to happy memories of string-laden 1970s disco, while Madonna and dancers appeared in glittery versions of Revolutionary War finery, complete with feathered tricorn hats, only to be confronted by police with riot shields. “Dark Ballet” had Joan of Arc references, a montage of gothic cathedrals and scary priests, a synthesizer excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” and Madonna grappling with masked dancers, until cops pulled her off the piano she had been perched on. The signifiers were already piling up.

And there were more. Film-noir detectives pursued and interrogated Madonna in another disco-tinged song, “I Don’t Search I Find”; “Crave,” which warns, “My cravings get dangerous,” flaunted a full-sized disco ball. A pair of robotic but sinuous dancers, with red lights for eyes, flanked Madonna as she sat at a piano for the ominous “Future,” while the video screen filled with images of urban and environmental destruction. She surrounded herself with a choir of brightly robed women and geometric Arabic designs in “Come Alive,” which used the metal castanets and triplet rhythm of Moroccan gnawa music to back her as, once again, Madonna’s lyrics rejected unwanted opinions and restrictions.

The songs Madonna chose from her past were mostly exhortations and pushbacks, sometimes coupled with direct political statements. She sang part of “Papa Don’t Preach,” reversing its decision to “keep my baby,” then spoke directly about supporting abortion rights. Dancing while surrounded by video imagery of pointing fingers, she revived “Human Nature,” which already testified — a full 25 years ago — to Madonna’s tenacity and determination to express herself uncensored. When it ended, her daughters Mercy James, Estere and Stella were onstage, and the singers and a full-throated audience shared an a cappella “Express Yourself.”

The concert’s unquestioned showstopper was “Frozen,” a somber ballad from the 1998 album “Ray of Light” that offers healing: “If I could melt your heart, we’d never be apart.” Madonna appeared as a tiny figure onstage, surrounded by giant video projections of a dancer moving from a self-protective clutch to a tentative, then joyful unfurling and back. It was her oldest daughter, Lourdes, affirming the family connection in movement.

Since 2017 Madonna has lived in Lisbon, where her son David plays soccer, and she spoke about savoring the city’s music: the Portuguese tradition of fado and music from Portugal’s former empire, particularly from the Cape Verde Islands near Senegal. One of the show’s most elaborate backdrops simulated a club in Lisbon.

But appreciation doesn’t equal mastery. Madonna was backed by the Portuguese guitarra player Gaspar Varela, the grandson of the fado singer Celeste Rodrigues, in an earnest, awkward fado-rooted song, “Killers Who Are Partying” from the “Madame X” album; she also performed a Cape Verdean classic, “Sodade,” made famous by Cesária Évora.

Reminding the audience that she had sung in Cape Verdean Creole and other languages, Madonna boasted, “This is a girl who gets around. This is a girl who does her homework.” But in the songs themselves, she only sounded like a well-meaning tourist.

Madonna was more suited to the harder beat of “Batuka” a song based on the matriarchal, call-and-response Cape Verdean tradition of batuque. Backed by more than a dozen batuque drummers and singers — Orquestra Batukadeiras — and doing some hip-shimmying batuque moves, Madonna conveyed the delight of her discovery, even as the hand-played beat gave way to electronic percussion.

Forty-one musicians, dancers and singers appeared throughout the two-hour-plus show, which came with the same wardrobe changes as any of Madonna’s large-scale extravaganzas (one, before “Vogue,” was executed before the audience, shielded by a dressing table). The singer wasn’t onstage for one of the most powerful dance moments, a break between acts when a row of performers convulsed gracefully at the lip of the stage to irregular breaths, set to a recording of Madonna intoning lyrics from “Rescue Me.”

Madonna spoke to and with the audience repeatedly, taking advantage of the intimacy of the room to tell bawdy jokes, apologize for starting the show late and sip a fan’s beer. But in songs and stage patter, she sometimes conflated self-realization and self-absorption with social progress. Contrasting freedom and slavery after “Come Alive,” she announced that slavery “begins with ourselves,” forgetting that the slave trade was not the same as being “slaves to our phones.”

Yet with Madonna, the spirit is more about sounds and images than literalism. “I Rise,” which ends both the album and the concert, samples a speech by Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. then goes on to some clumsy lyrics. But in a small theater, with a gospelly beat, raised fists, images of protests worldwide, a rainbow flag, and Madonna and her troupe parading up the aisle — close enough for fans to touch — there was no denying the conviction.

Read more at The New York Times

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Madonna Reinvents the Pop Concert with Madame X Tour Kickoff

When Madonna announced the Madame X Tour there was a wave of intrigue that hit fans as we have been accustomed to experiencing the greatness of a live Madonna show in rather large gatherings like stadiums and arenas, but a theater with a 2,109 person capacity? This is unheard of for a star of her caliber.
Tickets went fast with more shows and cities being added to the tour as the weeks went on, the Madame X Tour is set to visit Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami before it finishes its North American run on December 22. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to cover Madonna’s Madame X Tour kickoff in New York at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House on September 17 and I’m here to tell you all about it! And I have to tell you about it because there are no photos or video from the concert to show you as cell phones or recording devices of any kind were not allowed for use inside the theater.
Once you get in line at the venue, a YONDR representative comes around and hands you a ticket and fills it out with your seating location after you show him your mobile ticket. As you head in, you’re handed a YONDR case/pouch where you place your phone and seal it locked, and that’s where your phone stays for the remainder of the show unless you enter a cell use area, there are several of these areas located in the venue. There’s merch aplenty here, so much cool stuff to see including drinking bottles, eyepatches, a tour book, shirts and even a jacket!
We were requested to arrive by 8:30PM as the show was scheduled to begin at 9:30PM but in keeping with tradition, Madge kept us waiting, the superstar icon didn’t hit the stage until 10:45PM and in all honesty, it was absolutely worth the wait. The show began with two performers, one being a woman who was typing away on that Madame X typewriter, you know which one I’m talking about. The line “Art is here to prove that all safety is an illusion” kept repeating on the screen, it was followed by giant gunshots taking aim at the stage before we enter with the tour opener, “God Control.” The politically charged song featured Madonna serving up a patriotic look in a sort of military meets victorian costume that gave me “Vogue” live at the 1990 MTV Awards vibes while some of the dancers yielded police shields. The stage featured giant white staircases and walls behind the stairs that were able to transform with the projectors and lighting, it was a simple yet very effective setup that was able to transform and evolve throughout the show in many ways. A ton of backup singers are displayed as they belt out that gorgeous chorus “we lost control…,” it’s a great opener!
The second song on the setlist was “Dark Ballet,” it opens with Madonna sitting on the stairs, legs spread open in a masculine pose with the lyric “I can dress like a boy” and then reaching for her crotch as she sings “I can dress like a girl.” A couple of performers come out featuring gas masks that are dressed with flowers just like we saw during her Eurovision performance, it’s quite creepy but it’s well done and suits the show perfectly.
A circular shaped hole built into the wall of one of the stage props is revealed and we see Madonna enter it as she performs the third song on the setlist, “Human Nature,” and just like that the crowd goes wild! Giant hand shadows fill up the screen and cover the stage props, dancing around Madonna as she performs in the circular space. While inside this space, Madge gives us a headstand that generates some serious applause. At one point during “Human Nature” a drummer brings out two congas with Madonna helming one as the words “I’m not sorry” fill out the screens. As the giant see-through screen comes down Madonna makes the Madame X Tour a family affair as she dances along and brings out a posse of performers including her twin daughters Estere and Stelle, this is the first of several times we see the young kids take the stage with their mama and it is an absolute delight to witness! After her performance of “Human Nature,” we then hear Madonna tell the crowd “that’s right, have I made myself clear?” as we bow down to the Queen. We then get “Express Yourself” in acapella form and while it’s not the full song, it’s a nice touch to hear the hit performed this way with Madonna’s vocals sounding better than ever!
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Positieve reacties op start wereldtournee Madonna (Dutch news)

Madonna heeft haar langverwachte nieuwe wereldtournee Madame X dinsdag afgetrapt in New York. In het Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn waren zo’n tweeduizend fans getuige van haar comeback.

Beelden van het concert zijn er niet. Madonna had vooraf een telefoonverbod aangekondigd omdat ze wil dat fans de show echt beleven in plaats van door een schermpje. De reacties waren na afloop lovend op sociale media. “Dit was het beste wat ik ooit heb gezien. Mogelijk het artistieke hoogtepunt van Madonna. Ongelooflijk”, twittert een bezoeker. Een ander rept over “de show van de eeuw”. “Ik heb alleen geen plaatjes om het te bewijzen.”

“Bedankt dat jullie er waren. Ik ben zo blij dat we eindelijk publiek hebben”, schrijft Madonna zelf op sociale media. Tijdens haar set bracht ze een mix van oud en nieuw materiaal. Ze stond ook stil bij 50 jaar Gay Pride en ze brak een lans voor strengere wapenwetgeving in Amerika.


De positieve reacties komen na de kritiek op Madonna’s optreden tijdens het Eurovisiesongfestival in mei, wat geen doorslaand succes was. Volgens kijkers zong ze behoorlijk vals en bewerkte haar team na afloop het geluid bij de beelden die de zangeres online deelde.

Tot half oktober geeft Madonna nog eens zestien concerten in het New Yorkse theater. Daarna doet ze theaters in onder meer Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas en Los Angeles aan. In januari maakt Madonna de oversteek naar Europa waar ze eveneens een serie intieme theaterconcerten geeft in Lissabon, Londen en Parijs. De rest van de wereld wordt voorlopig overgeslagen.

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Here’s what went down at Madonna’s first ‘Madame X’ world tour show

Madonna kicked off her world ‘Madame X’ tour in New York last night (September 17).

The singer played a lengthy set which laced tracks from her recent album with classic hits from her backcatalogue at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn.

The singer used the show to hail 50 years of Gay Pride and call for tighter gun control following the recent rise in shootings in the US.

“The biggest problem in America is gun safety and gun control which is disproportionately affecting our marginalised communities,” she told the crowd before launching into anti-gun violence track, ‘God Control’. “So can we please get together and do something about gun safety people, gun control.” You can view footage below.

‘Dark Ballet’
‘Human Nature’
‘I Don’t Search I Find’
‘Papa Don’t Preach’
‘God Control /Rescue Me’ (outro)
‘American Life’
‘Fado Pechincha’
‘Killers Who Are Partying’
‘La Isla Bonita’
‘Extreme Ocident’
‘S.E.X [Interlude]’
‘Rescue Me’
‘Come Alive’
‘Like A Prayer’
‘I Rise’

Last month, Madonna postponed the start of her Madame X Tour as a result of technical setbacks.

Two of the first three dates at Brooklyn’s BAM Howard Gilman Opera House — originally scheduled for September 12 and 14 — were moved back to October 10 and 12.  A further show on September 15 was cancelled.

As well as the US dates, Madonna will play a 15-night residency at the iconic London Palladium in February 2020.

In a four-star review of ‘Madame X’, NME’s El Hunt described the record as “bold, bizarre, self-referential and unlike anything Madonna has ever done before”.
“For the first time since ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor’, perhaps, there’s a glint in Madonna’s eye; her visible, un-eyepatched one, at least.  Sonically restless, ‘Madame X’ doesn’t imitate current pop trends as much as it mangles them into new shapes,” our verdict stated.

“A record that grapples with being ‘just way too much’, ultimately, it refuses to tone things down.”

More at NME

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Madonna kicks off tour with intimate BAM concert

Madonna was like a virgin — shiny and new all over again.

In the first full concert of her sixth decade, the 61-year-old Queen of Pop ventured into unknown terrain, launching her “Madame X” theater tour at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House on Tuesday night. In a 37-year career playing arenas and stadiums, after rising up from the downtown New York club scene, she was still reinventing herself.

This — the first of her 17-night stand at BAM ending Oct. 12 — was indeed uncharted territory for a woman who has done it all. Playing in such an intimate space after all these years, though, the pop diva of all pop divas was adamant about you not sharing videos and pics of her so up close and personal.

Her no-cellphone policy required you to put your device in a pouch that wouldn’t allow you access to it until after the show or at designated phone stations outside of the theater.

The Material Mom of six has gone from “Papa Don’t Preach” to “Mama Don’t Play.” She can still out-diva any opera diva on the planet.

But as fans lined up around Fort Greene’s Ashland Place to get to the opera house entrance on Lafayette Street — no doubt slowed by having to put their phones in those YONDR pouches—it was the kind of New York scene befitting a New York icon. When it was announced that she wouldn’t even go on until 10:30 p.m. — despite the 8:30 start time on the ticket — fans didn’t even blink an eye.

They knew the drill: You wait until Madonna is ready.

When she finally took the stage around 10:45 p.m. to sing “God Control,” her anti-gun anthem from her “Madame X” album, some of her old fans who had been napping on their partners’ shoulders needed to heed the song’s call to “wake up” in a very literal sense.

Fans line up around the block at BAM for the opening night of Madonna's residency Madame X tour.
Fans line up around the block at BAM for the opening night of Madonna’s residency Madame X tour.William C. Lopez

But just as Madonna wanted to keep it old-school with her no-cellphone policy — which was refreshing and relatively painless — the night was also a concession to the fact that she is, well, older now.

That could be felt in her most throwback moment, when she took a Polaroid selfie of herself and sold it to old pal Rosie O’Donnell — her costar in 1992’s “A League of Their Own” — for a thousand dollars.

But it could also be measured in the fact that this theater tour is not just a creative curve in a career where every move has been calculated, but it’s a reimagining of herself as an artist at a time when she can no longer do the choreography-heavy work that arenas and stadiums would demand of her.

Let’s be real: There’s only so far Madonna had to walk from one side of the stage to the other at BAM.

As shrewd of an agent as Madame X — the spy alter ego she adopted for her latest album — is, she had her dancers do the heavy lifting for her. Instead, she emphasized the performance art that has always been a part of her concerts at the expense of the moves that she honed when dance teacher Martha Graham first coined her “Madame X.”

Fans line up around the block at BAM for the opening night of Madonna's residency Madame X tour.
William C. Lopez

The setting and the sensibility turned up the theatrics of “Madame X” songs such as “Dark Ballet,” which, with its nod to Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” came to life in a way that made it dig into your soul more than the recording could. And make no mistake, this is a “Madame X” show. A good 80-85 percent of the two-hour-plus show is dedicated to her new album.

That won’t make this tour the go-to show for the casual Madonna fan, but diehards hardly seemed to mind that she only gave you bits of faves such as “Express Yourself” and “La Isla Bonita” while concentrating on “Madame X” tracks such as “Medellín,” “Crazy” and “Come Alive” — the latter of which did just that with a gospel flourish that set the stage for “Like a Prayer” later.

“Like a Prayer” and “Vogue” were the only two straight-up Madonna classics that she really performed in full. But the highlight was another Madge hit, 1997’s “Frozen,” that she did as her oldest child, 22-year-old daughter Lourdes, did the dancing on video projections to keep it in the family groove.

More at NYPost

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