Like everywhere else the Madame X Tour in Paris is a phone-free event.
In the important information to know:
– The recommended time of arrival is 7:00pm.
– There’s no locker room.
– No smoking area in the room. No smoking after passing through the controls.
All details HERE (in French)
Madonna started around the clock of 9pm last night but opened with ‘Vogue’, no ‘God Control’, ‘Dark Ballet’ and ‘Human Nature’.
She seemed to be enjoying herself and many people attending described the show as ‘impressive’. Her polaroid sold for 1700GBP. Early reports stated that Madonna was supposedly being mean to the beer bitch, but it was completely taken out of context. It was actually a very nice and funny conversation. The guy wore a Marlboro suit and she joked around with him about smoking being bad for you.
She also asked the audience if they thought her Superbowl Halftime show was the best to date, to which the crowd responded with a ‘YES’.
So this was the second show to date to have five cut songs (God Control, Dark Ballet, Human Nature, Sodade & Crave), six actually if you count ‘Express Yourself’
Thanks to Hans for the photo
After cancelling a handful of shows – including two London dates – due to injury, Madonna has finally arrived at London’s Palladium for opening night. By her standards, it’s a ludicrously small venue. This lofty, gilded space has hosted a few other musical legends in its time – Frank Sinatra and The Beatles to name a couple – but in bringing her latest record ‘Madame X’ to life, Madonna takes the dramatic brief from a venue as well known for theatre as for music, and runs away with it.
Much like a theatre production, the gig is split into a number of different segments, and the ever adaptable Madame X – with her enterprising approach to the current jobs market – is the versatile thread running through. During opener ‘God Control’ she’s a fighter, dodging gunfire, and fighting off police officers with riot shields: “Death to the patriarchy,” she yells as they bundle off her into one of the set’s moving compartments.
In a surreal interlude she turns comedian and addresses the room from behind a doctor’s screen, cracking jokes about small penises, and pretending to give birth: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it’s like to have Mozart coming out of your pussy!” In the disco banger ‘I Don’t Search I Find’ she’s a spy under interrogation. And later on, she’s a cheerleader for Lisbon: kicking back in a blue-tiled fado bar for a reworking of ‘La Isla Bonita’, inviting all manner of new friends – including Cape Verde group Orquestra Batukadeiras – to join her on stage. During this last segment, Madonna is wide-eyed and awestruck; it’s clear that collaborating with these musicians is what really makes her tick.
At times, a little like the more ham-fisted moments of ‘Madame X’, the messaging can feel a bit overbearing. The world is going to shit, but Madonna really loves Portugal – this much is clear.
Continually, Madonna plays on the intimacy of the West End theatre, at one point marching into the audience in search of a spare seat. Cosying up next to a bemused fan, she takes a swig of his beer. “I’m about to drink your backwash!” she declares merrily. “Do you come to the theatre often?” Quite understandably, he’s lost for word
At times, the affair feels like a pop panto: when Madonna appears in a resplendent feathery hat and her customary eye-patch, she could easily be mistaken for a knee-slapping Captain Hook. This only heightens as the superstar leads the Palladium through a chant of “One, two, cha, cha, cha” (from ‘Madame X’s lead single ‘Medellín’) later in the set, demanding they shout louder and louder. When a stage-hand brings out a chair, Madonna seizes the opportunity to reference her injury, while cracking a dirty joke. “Usually I kneel for it [this interlude] for like, 20 minutes,” she says. “I’m good at that, so I’ve been told”.
And the wisecracks keep coming. There’s a truly bizarre charity auction where Madonna takes a selfie onstage, and flogs the resulting polaroid to someone in the front row for a grand; when a man gets onto her stage and waves a wad of cash at her, she’s visibly fuming. “I don’t care,” she tells him, waving his money away. “You walked on my stage without permission”. As the whole chaotic saga finally draws to a close, £50 notes strewn across the stage, she sighs at her UK audience’s inability to close a deal efficiently. “Are you guys confused about Brexit?” she quips.
She also makes fun of herself, poking fun at her own inability to arrive on time (on the US leg of the tour, she was late multiple times – tonight she’s a mere 15 minutes behind). There’s even a niche remark about London’s noise curfews. “There’s an iron curtain…” she states, ominously. “I’ve been warned by Westminster Council”.
Largely centred on ‘Madame X’ tonight is light on the classics: there’s a snippet from ‘Express Yourself’, performed alongside her daughters Mercy, Stella and Estere. She sneaks in a brief flourish from ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ into an instrumental section. ‘American Life’, ‘Human Nature’ and an ever-so-slightly underwhelming ‘Vogue’ appear in full – the penultimate song is a thumping rendition of ‘Like A Prayer’. A minimal performance of ‘Frozen’ – Madonna seated behind a screen, a larger-than-life projection of her daughter Lourdes dancing around her – is the goosebump inducing moment of the night amid the visual overload.
As it happens, the production is so intricate and absorbing that you barely miss the more familiar tunes and numerous overlooked cuts from ‘Madame X’ – the self-referential ‘Crazy’ and sinister apocalypse banger ‘Future’ – seem to find their feet. For all of her dramatic personas on ‘Madame X’, tonight is largely about Madonna herself. By the end, it feels like we know her a lot better.
It’s strange to witness the Queen of Pop in this light. As disorientating as it feels, the tension of seeing an untouchable legend letting her guard down makes this show incredibly special. It also feels like a brave move from an artist who could do just about anything. Then again, risk-taking and reinvention is what makes Madonna an icon.
More at NME
Lucy O’Brien finds Madonna’s new show a lyrical exploration of love, exile and liberation, with just a smattering of greatest hits
Madonna live photography by Ricardo Gomes
There is sense of trepidation as we sit, mobile phones locked in special pouches, staring at the velvet stage curtains on the opening night of Madonna’s Madame X tour at the London Palladium. Earlier in the week she was forced to cancel the first of her 15 London dates due to knee injury, and had already cancelled dates in the US and Lisbon – one 45 minutes before a show.
Just before 9pm the curtain rises on a screen featuring James Baldwin’s words: “Artists are here to disturb the peace.” The crowd – a flamboyant mix of women, gay men and the gender fluid – cheers loudly, partly with relief. Starting with the rigid, Auto-tuned defiance of ‘God Control’, Madonna carefully moves down a white staircase wearing what looks like a pirate costume with a blood spattered apron. It’s not a flattering outfit, but that’s the point, and that’s what I like about this new iteration of Madonna. There aren’t many female pop artists who open a set with a bloody apron and dancers dressed as police with riot shields.
“I’m not your bitch/ Don’t hang your shit on me,” she sings with satisfaction, the crowd joining in the hearty chorus. Whilst dancing she even manages a kundalini yoga pose, executed tongue-in-cheek with a slight wobble. Ironically, the admission of health issues has given Madonna permission to be fallible and flawed. ‘I need to sit down,’ she says at one point, taking a chair. I remember Madonna aged 50 on her Sticky & Sweet tour furiously skipping with a skipping rope as if to maintain the illusion of invincible strength. Then she was consumed with keeping up, but tonight she paces herself, trading quips with the crowd – at one point she takes a selfie with a Polaroid and tries to auction it off – dancing in a way that’s expressive rather than athletic.
Madonna performs only a few past hits, and the ones that work best are totally re-imagined. ‘Express Yourself’, for instance, sung a capella with her Malawian daughters, and ‘Frozen’, delivered against a moving backdrop – a giant video of 23-year-old Lourdes dancing. ‘Vogue’, however, comes across as a static Warholian tableau, with her dancers in trenchcoats and Marilyn Monroe wigs. Too young to have lived that Vogue era, their performance lacks the raw underground energy of the original Blond Ambition posse.
Most of the set focuses on Madame X material, and this is where Madonna is most comfortable. An air of spiritual reflection is fuelled by the last two years living in Lisbon, partying with local musicians and absorbing everything from mournful Portuguese fado to devotional Moroccan Gnawa. Woven throughout the show is her exploration of exile, dispossession, and liberation, whether it’s in the dark percussive undertow of ‘Batuka’ (performed here with the mighty Orquestra Batukadeiras) or the lilting ‘Killers Who Are Partying’. During this final act the music really flows, particularly in ‘Crazy’, a swaying trippy song about desire that has the dancers creating elegant shapes or flinging themselves prostrate around Madonna, the Queen Bee. Ah, this is their Vogue moment.
The show finishes with a gospel-charged ‘Like A Prayer’, the anti-gun anthem ‘I Rise’, and the unfolding of a beautiful rainbow curtain. Madonna exits still singing, through the stalls, followed by her dancers. Fans reach out. “I touched her, I touched her!” one man says, with tears in his eyes. Madonna has found a new place for herself, creating in Lisbon a world and a community that is post-star, a kind of self-imposed exile from the postmodern icon she was and the music industry that she fought so hard to conquer. Now at 61, with bad knees and salty humour, she wants to keep pushing forward but in a way that is forgiving of herself. “There should have been more hits,” someone grumbled, but it’s her embrace of the new that makes this show so lyrical and vivid. I, for one, loved the surprise.
More at The Quietus
“All of the tracks I was nominated alongside were great, so I was a fan of those,” she admitted. “I think the fact that mine was a Madonna remix helped, but again, I never really expected the win, and I was okay with that since the nomination felt like I already had one.”
“I loved the Madame X album, and in particular, I loved ‘I Rise,’ so I wanted to do a version for the dance-floor. The best part was that this remix happened organically. That’s why this song was really special to me. Also, the song is important in its original form,” she added.
With this Grammy nomination and win, Young made music history since she was the first female remixer and producer to ever be nominated and to subsequently win this competitive Grammy category. “That was amazing. Just to be recognized felt like such a win. The support and the love I have been receiving, as a result, is overwhelming. I really do feel the love and it’s an unbelievable feeling,” she said.
“I texted Madonna after the win, telling her that we won, and she texted me back saying ‘Congratulations.’ Madonna has been such a supporter in my whole career,” Young said.
In 2000, Young served as a DJ for Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie.
On being an artist in the digital age, she said, “I am still getting used to the digital age since it moves quickly. It’s very different now and there is so much music now.”
For Young, some of the most defining moments in her career were the trials and tribulations that she went through, and the moments that she wasn’t winning awards. “When you are struggling to get work, and when people are telling you ‘no.’ Those are the moments that defined me. Everybody gets rejected in this career,” she said.
Regarding her plans for 2020, she shared that she will be focusing on PrideFest and new music. “I feel very inspired and I will be released a bunch of music,” she said. “Also, I would like to work on original music with some of the artists that I’ve remixed for. I want to explore those opportunities.”
On the title of the current chapter of her life, she said, “Self-love.”
For young and aspiring DJs and producers, she encouraged them to work hard and be proactive. “I am living proof of the career that I’ve had as long as I have. I’ve had some really low moments even after having achieved so much. Just continue and don’t give up if this is what you want to do. Work hard and know your craft,” she said.
The Grammy award-winning DJ defined the word success as “being able to make a living doing something that you love.”
Tracy Young remixes of Madonna’s “I Rise” are available on Apple Music.
A smaller room did not equate to a smaller box office for the Material Mom.
Madonna’s sold-out three-night stand at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace from Nov. 7 to 10 grossed a whopping $4.24 million on the strength of 12,613 tickets sold, according to the latest figures from Billboard magazine.
A top ticket price of $757 helped the bottom line.
Full article at Las Vegas Review Journal
White port and willpower make for quite a cocktail. About halfway through tonight’s two-hour set, the first of 14 in London, Madonna takes a break on top of a baby grand piano. She drains a glass of the Douro region’s finest export – “sipping my pain just like champagne”, perhaps, as per the lyrics of Medellin, a song from her last album, Madame X.
Madonna grew fond of white port when she first moved to Lisbon, where her footballing son, David, enrolled in Benfica’s youth academy three years ago, and tonight it combines very well with Madonna’s steely self-possession. Forget the overplayed G&T boom – a little fortified wine allows the embattled singer to deliver a knockout show, full of stagecraft and chutzpah, spy chic and revolutionary zeal, in spite of well-publicised limitations.
The first night of this London residency was pulled because doctors once again ordered her to rest. It was the latest in a series of missed shows as the Madame X tour has wound its way through theatre venues in North America and Lisbon, often into the small hours. A friend who went to see her in Los Angeles reported the venue was Bikram-hot, presumably to keep Madonna’s muscles supple.
Tonight, this dancer turned singer shows she can still bust out some spectacular moves. Madonna does a handstand in a circular nook, gets dragged and thrown around by her dancers, and kneels down at the front of the stage to take a Polaroid of herself and count up wads of cash. Only because this is Madonna – her commitment to perpetual motion has always matched her desire to rattle the cage of the Catholic church – do you notice the absence of high heels and the pared-back legwork. How to get down from the piano, with a dodgy knee, a sub-par hip and a mild port high? A dancer tips up the piano lid and Madonna slides off, grinning. Another workaround: for Frozen, a slow-burner about emotional constipation from 1998’s Ray of Light album, Madonna sings as her eldest daughter, Lourdes, does the dancing for her, via a video projection.
The wine rush seems to make Madonna even more garrulous. These theatre shows have been designed for greater intimacy, a way to deliver the politics and world bops of her actually very good Madame X album less bombastically than in an arena. There is a lot of audience interaction, not least when Madonna plonks herself down next to a poor soul from Sardinia and unconscionably mocks him for sourcing interior design fabrics. The Polaroid auction for charity is crass and weird, as Madonna fields cash offers from a couple of bidders who have already forked out for stall seats, one of whom climbs on stage and receives a tongue-lashing.
Mostly, though, the proximity is intoxicating – the singer-percussionists of the Orquestra Batukadeiras join Madonna for the rousing, Cape Verde-themed Batuka filing in through the stalls. At the end, everyone – musicians, dancers – sashays out through the stalls too. If the seat prices are ridiculous (£140 is typical, peaking with VIP packages at around £1,000), the sense of occasion is only heightened by the absence of mobiles, safely tucked away in Faraday pouches. “How come no one’s taking my picture?” Madonna jokes, then confides: “I consider this an intervention for all of us.”
There are roughly 20 songs in the set, but some of the chitchat almost deserves equal billing with bangers such as the deathlessly wonderful Vogue and Like a Prayer, and a restyled version of La Isla Bonita (“a Portuguese lullaby”), the song that first crystallised Madonna’s now on-trend Latinate bent.
“I’m now going to use my British accent,” Madonna announces, primly. She was, she says, aghast listening back to interviews from her London years. “Why did you let me do that to myself? I’m from Michigan!” A notoriously tardy diva, Madonna refers repeatedly to a warning from Westminster council to bring down the nine-ton fire curtain if she breaks curfew. We learn that David supports Tottenham.
Underneath all the topspin, the show itself is strong. Somehow, Madonna can talk about gun control – in the arresting opener, God Control – and how she learned about Portuguese fado from the late fadista Celeste Rodrigues without grinding gears. A 16-year-old Portuguese guitarist joins Madonna on stage for an impressive attempt at the dramatic Portuguese folk form. (The audience convinces Madonna that it’s perfectly legal for him to have a swig of beer afterwards.) If anything, Madonna’s voice has only improved with the years.
She can combine a girl crush on Joan of Arc – the song Dark Ballet, played out via a Coldplay-like penchant for revolutionary uniforms – with an extended meditation about the death of American influence in the international sphere. Hard-won self-actualisation is juxtaposed with smut, Moroccan gnawa with a Japanese viola player on Come Alive. The narrative line throughout is that Madame X – Madonna’s latest incarnation – is an international woman of mystery, travelling around from Kingston to Angola to Medellin.
Little mentioned in gig reports thus far is the excellent lighting work and shadow-play, particularly when shadowy hands assail Madonna in her circular nook. Dancers frequently carry a star’s costume change interlude, but the section tonight when nine dancers spasm to some beats created out of gasps was so intense you wish it had gone on longer.
The use of images of the typewritten word is trenchant throughout. A long intro repeatedly hammers the words of US writer James Baldwin into the consciousness: “Art is here to prove that safety is an illusion.” The letters clack out, resembling pistol cracks, and a rubber-boned dancer falls repeatedly to the ground as more gunshots ring out. The beats of the letters become the percussion to songs. This rat-a-tat may have begun as part of the tour’s retro spy-game styling, but it also supports the witness-bearing of writers and journalists.
Clearly, Madonna is a member of the 1%, and her outrage at environmental crimes sits uneasily with a jet-set lifestyle. But her treatment of the issues is full of believable anger; her proactive and progressive grandstanding dates back to the 80s. On Killers Who Are Partying, in the wake of Donald Trump’s nominal Middle East peace deal, she sings the line “I will be Palestine” – a change from the usual “Israel” lyric. It prompts a shiver-inducing cheer.
One of the finest songs on Madame X is Extreme Occident, a mature assessment of a very female state of being: being told what she is or isn’t. “I wasn’t lost,” sings Madonna, “I was right”. Perhaps most of all, this Madame X tour is an advert for trusting one’s own instincts, however contradictory and eclectic they may be.
• At London Palladium until 16 Feb
More at The Guardian
“She is here, isn’t she Will?”, asked a worried looking man at the London Palladium at about 20:00 on Wednesday night. “Yes”, I said. I didn’t actually know for sure, but he looked so anxious I thought a bit of reassurance wouldn’t go amiss.
Anyway, the merch counter had just fallen over and there was a rising sense of calamity which didn’t need adding to.
Madonna goes deep with her fans. The connection is genuine and mutual. Nobody blames her for cancelling shows due to extreme pain in her knees and hips, people just hope it’s not on their night (she has subsequently ruled out shows on 4 and 11 February).
“I feel so guilty,” another fan told me. “My mates had tickets for Monday night, which was cancelled and I’ve just sent a WhatsApp of my seat tonight.”
“Where are you sitting?” I asked
“Row U in the stalls,” he said
“How much did you pay?”
“£250” he said “Not bad eh? I think it’s going to be great.”
Full article HERE
Madonna : Madame X Tour – The London Palladium
We regret to inform you the Madame X concert scheduled for February 4th and February 11th, at The London Palladium is cancelled.
|“A note to all my fans:
As you all know, I have multiple injuries and have had to cancel shows to give me time to recover.
We have already issued your refund – you’ll see a credit onto the card you used within 5 working days.
If you have any questions for us, there’s lots of information in our FAQs. If what you’re looking for isn’t quite covered, get in touch with one of the team by sending your question through the helpdesk.
We’re sorry again for any disappointment caused.
They recently screened ‘A League of Their Own’ and the article inside covers this with the same picture used on the front cover.
The magazine is available at the theater at no charge.
Thanks to Patrick Laseur
The last time I saw Madonna, she fell down the stairs. Although, more to the point, she got straight up again and performed a dance routine. I myself recently fell down a flight of stairs, and as I lay at the bottom, curled up in a foetal position, swearing like Ant Middleton, the image of Madonna flashed through my mind. It took me all evening to recover, and as I nursed my bruises with an ice pack, cups of tea, two paracetamol and a Valium, I remembered Madonna at the Brit Awards in 2015. After her fall she was back onstage within seconds, confirming what we all know about her: that she is NAILS. It’s both her strength and her weakness.
I’m here to see her tonight at the Palladium in central London, an intimate venue for such a superstar, and this evening is another recovery on her part: a total of ten earlier shows on this tour had to be cancelled, including the first London date. She has injuries apparently, and has been seen in online footage warming up backstage wearing elasticated knee supports. She looks amazing in knee supports, and it makes me wonder why we don’t all wear them as fashion items. Perhaps we soon will.
Anyway, full disclosure: there was a time, years ago, when I didn’t totally love Madonna. In truth, I think I was jealous of her. She didn’t offer me as obvious a role model as my late-Seventies dark-haired punky heroines, and I found her blonde glamour both entrancing and threatening. In the early Eighties she brought sexy back, and sharing the same record label with her was sometimes a dispiriting experience. Her style became the template for female pop stars, and she threw many of us into the shade, making our indie puritanism look dated and, well, puritanical.
I also thought for a while that I didn’t love her voice, but in retrospect I think I was just being bitchy. Then I came to my senses and realised what a great instrument it is, able to cut through the densest arrangements, dominate any dance floor, and leap out of your radio; instantly identifiable, triumphant and celebratory. Those are the moods she does best, which is what I meant earlier about her toughness being a weakness as well as a strength. You don’t go to Madonna for vulnerability, or confessional songwriting. For someone so open in so many ways, she retains a kind of dignity and privacy as a performer. Onstage, she is MADONNA, and she is all about self-determination, pleasure and defiance.
The defiance has always been there. “Don’t” is one of her favourite words. Every ten years or so she explicitly tells us not to tell her what to do. It started back in 1986 with “Papa Don’t Preach”, a lyric in which a woman literally defies the patriarchy by refusing to be cowed by her father’s morality. In 2000 she recorded “Don’t Tell Me”, with its crystal-clear lyric, “don’t tell me to stop”, and in 2008 she was still fighting back against those who would have her slow down, singing, in “Give it 2 Me”, “don’t stop me now, don’t need to catch my breath, I can go on and on and on”. I soon recognised this defiance in her, and saw that she wielded a sword every bit as powerful as anything brandished by Patti or Poly or Siouxsie.
Tonight, as she appears on the stage, the audience rise as one, giving her a standing ovation that lasts for the full two hours of the show. We sit for a couple of brief moments, but otherwise remain on our feet in her presence, and it seems appropriate. You don’t need me to tell you the show is spectacular, what else would it be? Projected images dazzle and challenge, the stage transforms, the costumes keep coming, the dancers don’t miss a beat. And nor does Madonna herself. Of course she doesn’t. Bitch, she’s Madonna. So no, we don’t get many of the hits, and yes, we do get most of the new album, which is never what an artist’s fans would choose were they to do the choosing. But while Madonna is a great entertainer, she’s no craven crowd-pleaser. The job of keeping herself interested is what, I suspect, motivates her. Churning out the old hit singles would make for a very different kind of concert, one that she would have no interest in.
Instead, we get a show that is a kind of art-pop West End musical that reminds me of the films and pop videos made by Derek Jarman: not afraid to be grandiose, or even pretentious, knowing that great pop is strong enough to bear the weight of both those things without collapsing. She has always played with imagery that is religious, or militaristic, full of big bold symbols, harnessing a kind of camp rebelliousness which is serious without being dull.
In her music, she doesn’t often offer glimpses of sadness or pain, always seeming more authentic when she’s fighting back against that pain, or dancing through it. Though tonight there is one moment of near-vulnerability, when she performs a truly moving version of the song “Frozen”. The staging is suddenly dominated by huge, full-screen images of her daughter, while Madonna is picked out by a spotlight mid-stage, so that she seems to be held aloft, cradled by her dancing daughter. They are entwined, and it’s beautiful, and a moment of rare simplicity.
She ends the show with “Like a Prayer” and we all sing as if we were in church, as if we were true believers, which I guess we are. She is still fighting back against those who would stand in her way. On the track “Future”, from her current album Madame X, she sings, “don’t tell me to stop ‘cause you said so”. The message is loud and clear, and every inch of her proclaims, usually in the face of criticism from men, “DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO”. I am sure some doctor somewhere is currently telling her to tone the show down, go easy on her knees, not exacerbate any joint issues, and I think “well good luck with that, doc”, as I watch her, once again, doing everything the male pop stars do, but backwards and in heels. And better.
Madonna’s “Madame X” tour continues at the London Palladium until 16 February
More at NewStatesMan
MADAME X IS A RAY OF LIGHT
LONDON JANUARY 30 2020
After weeks of fearing that this show might be cancelled too – the fear seriously remained until two hours before the start – my patience was rewarded. And boy, what an amazing Xperience this show is.
I traveled to London alone, having a VIP Crave ticket knowing that I was gonna meet and eat with other fans. One of the many things that make these tours so special: meeting new and familiar faces from all over the world. At 5:30 I walked over to The Palladium, my hotel was one street from the venue. Check in for the diner was at Aqua Nueva restaurant, right across the venue. I received my VIP laminate and was guided to my table. I was seated at one of the single-ticket-tables, where I met Paolo from Italy, Alyssa from Las Vegas and Kevin from New York. The diner was great, quite fitting for a VIP experience.
After the diner we received our little red cards with our seat numbers written on it and we were escorted to the VIP entrance, which was great because this way we could skip the long lines of people waiting to enter The Palladium. Everything was so well organized, it all went very smooth. The barcode of my ticket was never scanned throughout the evening, which surprised me.
I got to my seat, which was at the left wing. I was lucky though, because three seats next to me remained empty, so I could ‘upgrade’ three seats which made me end up at the aisle. Yay! It was now 8:30, the supposed starting time of the show. After starting only 10 minutes late the night before, this night she kept us waiting until almost 9:30. Still a very okay time for a Madonna show. This late start came with a surprise though… She started with Vogue, which meant she skipped the whole first section: God Control, Dark Ballet, Human Nature and Express Yourself. She also skipped Crave. Quite disappointing, because the first two are amongst my favorites on the album. I don’t know if she skipped these because of her injuries or because of the supposed curfew for London theatre shows.
That said, Madonna was shining like only Madonna can. She looked amazing, I was fourth row and now at the aisle, so I had an amazing and close view. Wow. She was in a very good mood and quite talkative. Her voice was very strong too. Also, I really thought her dancing was smooth and she seemed to have fun. Not moving in a stiff or painful way, which I expected because of her injuries.
The beer chair moment lasted only like a minute, she ended up with a guy who couldn’t speak a single word of English. Quite painful for both him and Madonna. She quickly ended the conversation by telling him that there are many schools in London that teach English.
Highlights: I Don’t Search I Find, Crazy, Medellin, Come Alive, Frozen. And that split second moment she was dancing close to me in the aisle during Medellin. Was it Medellin…? I can’t even remember because I was completely mesmerized by her amazing looks, her shiny eyes and smile and by having her only inches away from me.
Extra surprise: after the show I met Aaron, M’s make up artist, outside of the venue. We talked for about an hour, about his work, his interaction with fans on social media and of course about Madonna. Such a nice and kind person he is.
What an amazing show. If you’re lucky enough to see it: you’re up for a unique Madonna experience. Like you’ve never seen her before.
Thank you @Madonna with all my heart for giving me your Polaroid tonight! Meeting you and telling you how much you’ve inspired me and taught me over 35 years was an honour and dream come true. I love you ❤️#MadameXTour @LondonPalladium pic.twitter.com/yMbiWUu53b
— Carolyn Preston (@carolynMfan) January 31, 2020
Madonna started the show later today and therefore cut the first couple of songs now opening with ‘Vogue’ instead of ‘God Control’. Everything else was the same, even though she was visibly in more pain than the previous ‘opening’ night.
Madonna’s London Palladium residency finally got under way last night with a quote from writer James Baldwin: “Artists are here to disturb the peace”. And the ensuing show was certainly a riot, romping through a dizzying array of genres, set pieces and themes.
We’ve come to expect that from Madonna, of course, but the difference with the Madame X tour is the unusual intimacy of the surroundings. The Palladium – where Madonna is in residency until February 16 – is the smallest London venue she has played since her 1983 debut at Camden Palace (now Koko) and, if recent tours have relied on production to reduce the distance between her and her fans, tonight they are close enough to share their seats, even their drinks with her (but not to take her photo, as all phones were banned).
Madonna professes herself thrilled “to be able to see all your faces” and the feeling seems mutual; when she makes a couple of brief forays into the aisles, the reaction at being so close to a pop icon verges on the hysterical.
And if, at times, this intimacy seems too prosaic for a star of her wattage, at least her performance levels remain superhuman. The pre-show industry quips in the bar centred on Madonna “passing a late fitness test” to make tonight’s show, after her scheduled London debut on Monday was cancelled due to injury. But, despite her complaining of a dodgy hip and knee and occasionally demanding a seat, there’s no sign of a more sedate approach; surrounded by superb young dancers, she holds her own.
The elaborate set, extensive genre-hopping and spectacular set pieces make this the most ambitious, theatrical show since Kate Bush’s Before The Dawn. As with that show, some elements connect better than others but, from the opening God Control to the set-closing, joyous Like A Prayer, via the irrepressible pizzazz of Vogue, the star who essentially invented the modern stadium pop extravaganza set about proving that reduced scale does not need to mean reduced spectacle.
Yet some of the show’s greatest moments are its simplest: her stirring rendition of Frozen as her daughter Lourdes dances on the video screen; a lithe strum through American Life; the uncomplicated funk of Crazy.
The show is light on hits and heavy on latest album Madame X; meaning the gap between the fans’ fantasy Madonna setlist and the real life one remains wide. But that’s not really the point.
Instead, this is a show that’s equal parts brilliant, bewildering, belligerent and plain bonkers, but always Madonna. Mission accomplished.
PHOTO: Ricardo Gomes
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The Queen of Pop overcame injury to deliver one of her most memorable shows yet in London.
It was a smart move on Madonna’s part to ban the use of mobile phones for her Madame X tour.
More than four months since its New York premiere, the show arrived in London to great excitement; its surprises unspoilt by YouTube uploads, rave review from both professional publications and social media postings, and its setlist up online, ensuring no-one is going along in anticipation of a greatest hits extravaganza.
That’s just as well, because the show is mostly Madame X-centric with a few oldies thrown into the mix – not that that would come as a big surprise to true fans, since she’s always leaned heavily towards new material since 2001’s ‘Drowned World’ tour.
Madonna – Madame X at The Wiltern, LA (Photography: Ricardo Gomes)
So we get a very cool ‘Vogue’ done as a sort of snippet from a spy movie, ‘Express Yourself’ as an a cappella singalong, ‘Like A Prayer’ as transcendent gospel (and very much in tune post Eurovision) and ‘Frozen’ accompanied by a stunning video of daughter Lourdes doing interpretive dance like a chip off the old block.
But it was the new songs that truly thrilled – from electrifying opener ‘God Control’ to an inspirational ‘I Rise’ at the end, where Madonna walked up the aisle and through the crowd in what truly is her most intimate show to date.
The Madame X era has proven to be a trying one for the Queen of Pop: Released in June last year, the album is her best since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor and – with its genre-blending, world-exploring sound – it’s very much the work of a woman keen to push the envelope.
Madonna – Madame X at The Wiltern, LA (Photography: Ricardo Gomes)
But, despite its beautifully-crafted songs and often astonishing sonic explorations, it’s her lowest-selling long-player to date.
So what? Fans clamoured for tickets for the accompanying tour – an all-theatres roadshow promising a more up-close-and-personal encounter with the Queen than previous arena and stadium tours.
But then came cancelled dates due to technical difficulties and a knee injury that a gruelling schedule hasn’t allowed time for Madonna to fully recover from, raising worries that she might not even make it to London.
Madonna – Madame X at the the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, NYC (Photography: Stu Fish)
We needn’t have worried. After cancelling the Monday show she was bang on time on Wednesday, joking that she’d be in big trouble with Westminster Council if she went beyond the 11pm curfew. She also cracked self-deprecating quips about the British accent she accidentally adopted when she was living here and about being an out-of-shape soccer mum.
The rest of us could only dream of being in such shape at age 61. She’s curvier, which really suits her, and even though she seemed a bit hesitant to really throw herself into the dance routines (no doubt in fear of aggravating her injuries) she’s still a phenomenally charismatic performer.
Madonna – Madame X at the the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, NYC (Photography: Ricardo Gomes)
I especially loved the ‘Fado’ section, where she turned the Palladium into a giant Portuguese party, and ‘Batuka’, where an army of female singers came through the crowd to join her on stage for a stirring call-and-response.
The show itself is by no means as slick as previous tours, but that only makes it more enjoyable. Madonna circa 2020 is more relaxed, more relatable and a lot of fun. All hail the Queen!
Madonna – Madame X is at the London Palladium until 16 February.
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Madonna review, London Palladium: An eyeball-twisting audiovisual assault with more action than a Marvel movie ****
Madonna wants us to wake up. Actually, she wants us to do a lot of things. Come with her to the future. Protect her from her critics. Know that she agrees that America is in turmoil and the finger is pointed at the “psychopath in the White House”. But, above all, remember that she is a provocateur and “freedom fighter” – an artist who is, in the words of James Baldwin, which are fired like gunshots on the screen to open the show, “here to disturb the peace”. And we are in her maverick world now, an eyeball-twisting audiovisual assault of cello-playing nuns and cartwheeling soldiers in gas masks, like The Two Popes meets Hamilton.
Anticipation fizzes around the London Palladium tonight, because this is the debut of the London leg of intimate shows – she cancelled her first earlier in the week due to a knee injury. It would have been hard to play her steely, eye-patched spy at half tilt: there are handstands, a bit where she slides down a grand piano like Roxie Hart and, of course, plenty of straddling her exceptional dancers. Like her 2019 album, she appears as Madame X, a bondage secret agent who threads various nods to her career through her new globetrotting mish-mash of trap, Latin-pop and Afro-Lusophone folk.
This is a show of two halves: the first is an aggressive blast of political messaging and theatre noir that is also a comment – and Madonna doesn’t do subtle – on being under attack herself. She opens with her disco ode to police violence, “God Control”, dressed in a glittering revolutionary outfit; then she’s on the run, pushed and shoved between her cast like a pantomime villain during new song “I Don’t Search I Find”, as phrases like “f*** off” flash overhead. There is more action than a Marvel movie: comic interludes, blowjob innuendos and a bizarre charity auction – during which she proclaims that “Madame X is also a saint” and a ballsy fan gets onstage to try and hand her £1,000 cash (she quips that she’ll have to fire her security).
“Vogue”, meanwhile, feels fairly low impact, but other flashbacks are a reminder of her sustained influence on pop culture. At one point, her dancers and three young daughters – Mercy, Stelle and Esthere, dressed in slick Nineties fashion (now fashionable once again) – gather beside her to chorus, “I’m not your bitch” after a rendition of “Express Yourself”. You could say that it’s a cheap shot to bring her family into it, but when she sings her earth mother banger “Frozen” as her other daughter, Lourdes, dances on a projection screen around her, it’s genuinely moving.
The second half of the Madame X Experience allows for some self-discovery. Madonna has long been a cultural tourist but it’s actually this part, dedicated to the music she’s discovered while living in Lisbon, that feels less forced. Here, she drops the wisecracking dominatrix routine and gives a real sense of her respect for the music, as she talks about the beauty of fado. There’s a laidback club scene where she sings “Crazy” without the jarring live AutoTune, while men rub her thighs as she pulls them away (seeming a little vulnerable while asserting her desirability). And she brings out the Orquestra Batukadeiras, from former Portuguese colony Cape Verde, for a rousing display of female solidarity on “Batuka”.
It’s not long before the slow clap of burning rainforest footage and flashes of “warning” are back (yes, we get it, the world has gone to s***!), as Madonna sings her reggae track “Future” while seated at the keys. The finale of “Like A Prayer”, though, seems to suggest emancipation – from the world, or perhaps from herself. She has disturbed the peace alright. This pacey onslaught is a bit like being trapped inside a panic attack. But when she’s not trying to keep up with her own legacy, the show is warm and brilliant.
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Monday was supposed to be the first of a planned 15 nights at the Palladium, cancelled on doctor’s orders. It was the 10th dropped concert of the Madame X Tour, which began in New York in September and gathered complaints for its late start times.
But tonight at 8.45pm, there she was, dressed as a bloodstained, eyepatch-wearing revolutionary soldier. She was also a spy, a protest marcher and a Portuguese fado singer in the course of a tireless, imaginative show that was far from shrunken arena pop. Thanks especially to an extraordinary troupe of dancers, it was a spectacle that felt more powerful up close.
Like Bruce Springsteen, who showed a different side of himself in his recent Broadway run, and Kate Bush, whose live comeback was more theatre than concert, the 61-year-old has unearthed something new late in her career. The Madame X album may have plummeted out of the charts in an instant, but here its songs dominated and found their purpose.
Batuka, tuneless on record, was euphoric when performed with a mass of smiling, rump-shaking Batuque drummers from Cape Verde. I Rise was far more powerful when backed by footage of anti-gun protests and gay pride marches.
There were awkward moments. Her knee problems slowed her movement, her three youngest children didn’t need to be wheeled on to shout slogans, and a male fan walked onto the stage to her obvious fury. But towards the end, the Bollywood clatter of Come Alive and gospel uplift of Like a Prayer were pure joy. If she can manage this 13 more times, a lot of Londoners will be very happy.
Until February 16, lwtheatres.co.uk
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