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!
Read the full review at Setlist.fm