I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. Time for a personal reflection of the Madame X era.
I instantly fell in love when I heard ‘Medellin’ for the first time, then almost every week we got another track. My first thought was, hmm it’s all autotune, don’t know if I like this. But after literally a second listen to that particular song I was hooked. ‘Crave’ for example is still my fave MX track. From the moment she dropped the album, I couldn’t stop listening to it, and still do a lot. It turned out really quickly that not everybody could appreciate the album (according to the reactions in many FB groups.) Too much autotune, not many uptempo songs etc. An album without commercial hit potention. For the first time in years she received really good reviews, and I still don’t understand why she was ignored at the Grammy awards. I really liked the album a lot, I like the experimental stuff she’s creating with Mirwais. There are so many layers on this album. Yeah it’s definitely an album that needs more listens, a grower. I would say, give it 10 to 15 years, and this album is classified as ‘way ahead of its time, a real classic M album.’ Remember ‘Erotica’ and ‘American Life’ same story.
Then she and Maluma delivered a breathtaking performance at the Billboard Music Awards. She proved again that she’s the best live performance artist that we have. It brought high expectations for the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, and she didn’t deliver……That was it. She was over, she proved once more she can’t sing…..My FB feed was filled with Madonna hate posts. But come on what did you expect? In my opinion she shouldn’t have done it in the first place! It’s a song contest where people sing live, she would be ending in the bottom up for elimination. If she lip synced the performance, then it wasn’t good either, because it’s a contest based on performing and singing live. Didn’t like the songs she had chosen either. She should have done ‘Medellin’ and finish with two classics to get the crowd (and TV viewers) crazy. No she did sing a non-danceable ‘Like a Prayer’ version, bit of ‘Dark Ballet’ and her latest single ‘Future.’ The autotune was used way off and it didn’t help either that one day later her official YouTube channel uploaded the performance with edit vocals. I still believe the sound was mixed badly on purpose because people just KNEW she would make a political statement. I know many people who were in the venue including very good friends. They all said it wasn’t as bad as broadcasted on television.
Then the tour was announced with limited shows in theaters. Prices are sky high and not affordable for everyone, how dare she! I saved money to attend some shows, so I was lucky to see the show a few times. I booked 2 shows in every city from the EU leg; Lisbon, London and Paris. I know I’m very lucky that I could manage to buy tickets for six shows. Since ‘Rebel Heart’ i’m collecting less and use that money to see more shows. In the end everything ends up unopened in my closet, and the tour memories are forever in my memory. Being a Madonna fan since 1984 makes me less objective according to many of my friends and even unknown people. Both of them like to point out the things she didn’t do well this time and before I can give my feedback there is this ‘yeah but you are not objective, you like everything she does.’
This whole Madame X era was heavily stressful, so many cancelled shows. So many disappointed fans. I have dear friends who lost thousands of Euro’s, I felt like I was back in 1992 when the whole world was against her. This time it was not the entire world, but also a lot of die-hard fans. Everybody knew for sure, her career was over, she destroyed her own legacy with her insta posts of the twins and over-filtered selfies (shot from a certain angle reminding people of the mask from the movie Scream.) Cancelling shows followed by posting videos celebrating a birthday, dancing in a room with people. So many mixed signs. Signs I also didn’t understand. But she can do whatever she wants on her Instagram. Is it smart though? That’s another question. “If she can celebrate she can also sit on a chair and do her show anyway. Yeah back in the days she was good, now she’s better stop. I mean I love her but she’s too old, enough is enough. By the way she also can’t sing anymore, she couldn’t sing live in the first place. We want her to work again with Patrick Leonard or Stuart Price. She needs to deliver good music instead of all those crappy commercial collaboration shit she has delivered since Confessions.” These are just a few comments from die-hard fans that I kept on reading and hearing. I can only agree on the cancellation part, that was totally fucked up and nerve-wracking. Why not postpone the show, and recover first. When I saw 2 shows in Lisbon, I was ready to be all my money that she would cancel the London and Paris shows. She was in such heavy pain. We all know she isn’t the best actress in the world, this was definitely real. At the end of the January 18th show in Lisbon, me and my mate were at the end of the mixing tape where she stands to say “Thank You and Good Night”, right before leaving the theater. She was almost in tears, couldn’t move after her final words, stood still for at least a minute taking deep breaths, before she was escorted out of the room. Heartbreaking to see my idol in such a state like this. This was not Madonna the superstar, this was a women who just passed her boundaries in a very seriously bad way. She was broken.
She didn’t cancel or postpone but moved on to London. I don’t know what happened but every show she did in London, she was on high energy. One year ago I saw my best Madonna show ever, which reminded me a lot of my first show (Blond Ambition.) She gave everything she had. The kick ass attitude we love, she gave us the fearless Madonna and doing what she wanted to do without thinking. Seeing her on the piano during ‘Dark Ballet’, or taking down her hoodie at the start of ‘Like a Prayer.’ Goosebumps all over my body. So many flashbacks to the Blond Ambition Tour. The way she looked at us, the crowd. So many classic Madonna expressions we all know from her early performances. She really was in a perfoming mood. It was a show full of surprises. She sang ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ instead of having her infamous beer bitch moment. She talked a lot, and not only the ‘talk she rehearsed and always does is every show.’ She also spoke for the first time openly about her injuries, she had issues with her knee and that her doctor wanted her to cancel the tour, but she didn’t want that. I always say, when the artist or band gives the audience more energy than they can handle, you have an unforgettable unique show. This was definitely a show where she gave us more than we could handle.
Kimberly and I had tickets for the second row in the centre. The guy sitting in front of me in the first row was unlucky (in my opinion) because her photographer and social media guy Ricardo Gomes was sitting between him and the stage to film everything with his smartphone. The poor guy couldn’t sit relaxed with his legs, because of Gomes.. We were very close to the stage, even from the second row we could almost touch the stage. Then suddenly a cursing Madame X, because she passed the curfew and they didn’t open the curtain for the last song. The music started anyway and M came through the curtains with her crew to do the last song anyway, right in front of us. We could touch her if we wanted, but I’m not that kind of guy. If I get my moment I get it, I do respect her anytime, so no obsessive behaviour from me. At the end of ‘I Rise’ the dancer next to M grabbed my rainbow flag. It really felt like we were part of the show. I didn’t really realize all of this, until a few hours later and she posted a video about this on her Instagram. We were literally a part of Madonna history. The vibe was electric. Outside the venue all the fans were like “WTF did this really happen?”
Again I was lucky to see 2 shows, the first on Feb 22 and March 8 which happened to be the very last show…Back was the moody Madonna…The injuries seemed to be more visible than before. It all started out wrong when they found out that the show didn’t fit well in the Le Grand Rex. Corona was hitting the world seriously, and all events larger than 2500 people got canceled. LGR had a capacity of 2200. The last show was very emotional. She had to cancel the night before, but excited to perform on Sunday the 8. She probably already knew that France would be in complete lockdown the day after. She talked a lot during the show and danced less. Her dancers took good care of her. Later she declared that half the crew was sick in the final week, and that she had anti-bodies of the Covid-19 virus. We had front row seats and when she came down for the beer moment, she stood right next to us. She looked completely drugged out by painkillers.
After this show, I was really like, was this it? Can she do another big production? She first needs to take good care of herself. I feel very sorry for all the fans who missed out seeing the show, due to cancellations. If only she’d made one statement on her Insta about it to show how sorry she was for the fans. She didn’t, no word at all, a big middle finger to her fans. One statement could have done a lot.
I still find it very hard to understand how many die-hard fans turned their back on her because she didn’t deliver the album they wanted…I love her just because she always takes the road less traveled by…. For me this was one of the best era’s. I love the album and all the Madame X photo’s are fantastic. The tour is one of her best, if not the best!
Attending the ‘Medellin’ video premiere in London. The Madame X release Party a collab between Concerto recordstore and Madonnaunderground. We from Madonnaunderground also had the opportunity to lunch and interview the one and only Tracy Young. An unforgettable experience, such a lovely lady. Visiting 4 locations in Portugal where she shot Batuka, Dark Ballet & The World of Madame X.