Madame X Tour Le Grand Rex Paris February 23 – Live Report by Glen

MADAME X TOUR

Le Grand Rex, Paris February 23 2020

(scroll down for Dutch version)

 

I arrived at the Grand Rex on Sunday around 8.15pm. Fantastic venue, also very authentic look outside. They set up the queus in order of the plan of the venue, balcony, mezzanine and orchestra. I had orchestra tickets in row G (6th row), very close to the side of the venue. This queue went well and smooth and I think we were inside around the clock of 8.30pm. Security was swift and they locked up our phone in the Yondr bag, great system. The merchandise booth was quite small but did offer most merchandise I’d seen online. I was impressed with the service at Le Grand Rex, from the entrance we were escorted to our seats individually. This turned out to be a good idea as someone else was sitting in my chair. The outer seats are like folded chairs and not at all as comfortable as the other seats, so the people on the side ‘hadn’t seen this chair’ and decided to skip and move on to the more comfortable ones. Quite relaxed this wasn’t something we had to deal with ourselves. I am used to attend Madonna concerts and joining long queues in order to secure a good spot. We had some time to have a drink and buy some merchandise. I ran into Aaron Smith Henrikson (visionaaron) in the hallways who was chatting to some fans. Maybe with the beer bitch of that night to discuss what was going to happen? 

What got my attention when we sat down is that the side view isn’t good in the theatre. I was sitting in the sixth row and almost touched the right wall. But the people right in front of me, especially the second to the fourth row weren’t able to see the large curtain hanging over the stage. You could tell that people were disappointed who went up to their seats over there, mostly because I thought these were ‘golden/VIP seats’, me I was at the border of Category 1. I was pleasantly surprised by the supporting act by the Madame X band that played close to 10pm. I might’ve missed that fact. I thoroughly enjoyed this because it got everyone pumped up for the upcoming show. I always thought throughout the years why supporting acts didn’t play the music of the main act of the night, and that is what they did right here as we could sing the lyrics to the music. It did also give an indication of quite a late start to the actual show.

The lights went out a little after 11pm and Madonna started the show with Vogue (short version of the show was a fact). Pity, but I was prepared for this. Because of my seats I wasn’t able to see Madonna at all times when she was a little further down the stage. During the show the curtain didn’t always fully open when the interludes were being performed, this restricted our view even more. I suspect that people have been complaining about this to security, sometimes they managed to solve it during the show and the curtain opened a little further. For such expensive tickets this was quite a bitter pill to swallow, but I didn’t let it get to me as most of the times she was at the front of the stage. Still very close for such a legendary artist as Madonna!

After the first video interlude something went wrong, lights and sound went off and the dancers disappeared. It took a few minutes before Madonna appeared from behind the left curtain and excused herself. I thought it was charming she came on to deliver the message in person. Something was wrong with the show and this was due to the stage being too big for the Grand Rex. Because of all the adjustments nothing went smoothly. She told us we had to keep busy, quite soon a musician stood next to her and they started to perform Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis, it wasn’t the first time this occured. Vocally very strong! After this the tech issues still weren’t solved and the audience started to pick out a second song for her to sing, it almost became La Vie En Rose but she said she didn’t remember the lyrics very well. Right before she was about to start to try and sing the tech issues were solved and she said ‘saved by the bell’.

Right before Killers Who Are Partying Madonna urged the people to come forward to the stage. I hestitated, whom was she talking about? Just the first row or anyone who could manage to get there? I was sitting row 6 but on the side and noticed that not only the first row came nearer to the stage. I was able to pass the side passage easily so decided to try and didn’t doubt for too long. There was no problem and security let us pass by. Unbelievable I was right at the front! Second or thrid row but that’s very close as there are no barricades in front of the stage like there are at the big stadium shows. Magical moment, but suspected this would last for one song only. After Crazy we went back to our seats after security persuaded us to. Madonna however commented later on she didn’t agree with security’s actions and said that she’d asked for her fans to come near, so we went to the front again. Everyone returned, even more people now. I managed to find a spot on the second row again, I was able to move and dance so no pushing and shoving. I thought there was even enough space behind me to fit more people. The first couple of rows were all empty at this point.  It was a magical feeling being so close to her!

During the beer bitch moment things stopped going smoothly. Madonna had asked previously to go back to our seats later on, but when hadn’t been clear. Only when she descended the stairs with David she asked us to sit down. Not everyone was able to go back to their original spot and so had to settle for sitting on the floor. Going from standing to sitting with a ton of people isn’t easy so this took a while. There was some pushing and shoving now which was a pity, even though I think no one intended any harm but still some were handled roughly by security. 

After this it was back to relax mode and the fans stayed at the front until after Like a Prayer, then we were ushered back to our seats. This was necessary for Madonna’s exit through the crowd during I Rise. Highlights for me were Killers Who are Partying, Frozen, Future and Come Alive. Come Alive was very energetic, the batuqadeiras too who were obviously enjoying every moment with a smile. The dance interlude during Rescue Me was an artistic highlight. I was standing right in front of Malik, Madonna’s new boyfriend who definitely is the main dancer in this show. 

Madonna seemed very sincere and stayed positive despite the technical problems. She did limp a little due to her injury, but only when she left and entered the main stage. During the dancing she grooved and it wasn’t as obvious. I never expected I would be seeing her this up close than I already had. For me this night couldn’t have been better. Despite all the negativity surrounding this tour, she once again exceeded my expectations. Now it’s a long wait for the next tour because for me unfortunately I was only able to see her once this tour.

Madonna keeps on Rising

Glen Van Looy


 

Ik was zondag rond 20u15 aangekomen aan de Grand Rex. Super mooie zaal, ook van buiten heel authentiek. De wachtrijen buiten waren opgedeeld in de verschillende delen van de zaal, Balkon, Mezzanine en Orchestre. Ik had orchestre tickets, vrij dicht tegen de zijkant van de zaal (6de rij, G). Deze rij ging op dat moment vrij vlot en ik denk dat we omstreeks 20u30 binnen konden gaan. Security was vlot en GSM kon je snel vergrendelen in het zakje, mooi systeem. De merchandise stand was vrij klein maar had wel de meeste dingen die ik online al had gezien. Ik was ook onder de indruk van de service van Le Grand Rex, we werden vanaf de deur voor de ingang van de zaal individueel begeleid naar ons plaatsen. Handig want iemand had al één van onze plaatsen ingenomen. De buitenste zitjes zijn namelijk uitklapbaar en helemaal niet zo comfortabel dan de andere stoelen; dus de mensen aan de zijkant hadden deze uitklapstoel “niet gezien” dus eentje opgeschoven. Toch leuk dat we dit zelf niet moesten uitzoeken. Gezien ik concerten van Madonna gewend ben met lang aanschuiven om een plekje vooraan te hebben vond ik dit heel comfortabel. Nog lekker tijd om een drankje te nuttigen en rustige je merchandise te kopen. Tussen de gangpaden kwam ook Aaron Smith Henrikson (visionaaron) een praatje doen met enkele fans. Misschien ook met de beer bitch van de avond ter voorbereiding?

Wat me wel dadelijk opviel toen we gingen zitten is dat het zij-aanzicht niet goed is in de zaal. Ik zat op de 6e rij en nog net niet tegen de rechter muur. Maar de mensen voor mij, zeker de 2e tot 4e rij zagen volgens mij een grote hoek van het podium niet. Aan de reacties te zien van de mensen die daar toekwamen kon je een teleurstelling zien. Zeker omdat het volgens mij Golden Seats betrof, ik zelf had net de grens van Category 1. Ik was vervolgens aangenaam verrast dat er een voorprogramma was door de Madame X Band rond 22u, ik had blijkbaar in alle nieuws gemist dat er een opwarming was. Ik vond dit ontzettend leuk want het bracht iedereen in de sfeer. Ik denk al jaren, waarom spelen ze als voorprogramma geen liedjes van de artiest zelf, en dat werd hier volledig ingelost doordat we zelf konden zingen! Het gaf me overigens ook een indicatie dat de show dan iets later wel zou beginnen.

Omstreeks 5 na 11 gingen de lichten uit en kwam Madonna op met Vogue, korte show dus. Jammer maar daar was ik op voorbereid. Door de zij plaatsen zag ik wel Madonna niet altijd als ze wat dieper op de scène stond. Tijdens de show bleek het gordijn ook niet telkens volledig terug open te gaan na de intermezzos. Hierdoor werd het zicht nog harder belemmerd voor deze plaatsen. Ik denk dat sommige mensen hier ook over geklaagd hebben tegen security, soms werd het gedurende de show dan wel opgelost en ging het gordijn weer terug wat verder open. Voor zo’n dure plekken was dit wel even slikken maar ik heb het niet aan mijn hart laten komen want meestal stond ze wel vooraan het podium. Nog altijd heel dicht dus voor een wereldartieste als Madonna!

Na de eerste video interlude ging er iets mis, de show viel uit, licht geluid en de dansers waren verdwenen. Na enkele minuten kwam Madonna van achter het linkergordijn en excuseerde ze zich. Ik dacht dadelijk, mooi, dat ze het zelf komt zeggen. Er was iets mis met show en dit was te wijten aan het feit dat het podium te groot was voor de Grand Rex. Hierdoor moesten allerlei aanpassingen gebeuren en dit verliep niet altijd vlot. Decorstukken die tegen elkaar aanvaren en dergelijke. We moeten ons even bezig houden vertelde ze verder. Al snel kwam een muzikant bij haar staan en begonnen ze Falling in Love van Elvis te zingen, dat was niet de eerste keer dat dit gebeurde. Vocaal zeer sterk gebracht! Maar daarna was het nog steeds niet opgelost en ging het publiek samen met haar op zoek naar een tweede liedje. Bijna werd het La Vie En Rose maar ze kon de tekst niet goed herinneren zei ze. Net voor ze alsnog wou beginnen te zingen riep ze “saved by the bell”; de show kon terug opstarten.

Net voor Killers who are Partying riep Madonna de mensen plots dichter naar het podium. Ik twijfelde even, wie bedoelt ze juist? Enkel de eerste rij of iedereen wie er kon geraken? Ik zat zelf op rij 6 maar aan de zijkant. Ik zag dat niet alleen de eerste rij naar voren ging. Ik kon vrij goed langs het zijgang pad passeren dus ik besloot het te proberen en twijfelde niet te lang. Er was geen enkel probleem en security liet ons doorgaan. Ongelooflijk, ik stond vlak vooraan! 2e of derde rij maar dat is vlakbij want er is geen hek voor het podium zoals bij de grote stadionshows het geval is. Magisch moment, ik dacht dat dit maar één liedje zou duren. Hierna tijdens Crazy gingen we dan ook terug naar onze plekken op aandringen van de security. Logisch dacht ik ook. Maar dan iets later maakte Madonna een opmerking dat ze toch niet akkoord was met security en ze een woordje ging hebben met hen. “Ik had mijn fans gevraagd om naar voor te komen” waarna we opnieuw dichterbij geroepen werden. Iedereen kwam terug, deze keer nog meer mensen vermoed ik omdat het nu de tweede keer was. Ik kon opnieuw een plekje vinden op de tweede rij en het ging er vrij aangenaam aan toe, ik kon goed bewegen en dansen dus geen beklemmend gevoel. Er konden volgens mij zelfs nog extra mensen bijkomen achter mij maar niet iedereen kon er makkelijk geraken omdat de gangpaden zo smal zijn. De eerste rijen zetels waren quasi allemaal leeg op dit moment.
Het was een magisch gevoel om zo dicht bij haar te zijn!

Tijdens het “Beer Bitch” moment was het wel even oppassen want dit ging niet vlot. Madonna vroeg eerder al dat we “straks” wel terug moesten gaan zitten, maar wanneer was niet duidelijk. Pas toen ze de trappen al afkwam begeleid door David vroeg ze ons om te gaan zitten. Maar niet iedereen kon terug naar zijn plek gaan en moest dus op de grond gaan zitten. Van staan naar zitten met veel mensen tegelijk is niet handig dus dit duurde even. Tijdens dit moment werd er wel wat geduwd en dat was jammer, hoewel ik niet denk dat iemand kwade bedoelingen had werden sommige mensen hier hard aangepakt door security.  Na dit moment was het weer even terug relax en bleven de fans vooraan tot na Like A Prayer, toen werden we terug verzocht om naar onze plekken te gaan, logisch want voor I Rise komt Madonna terug door de gangen.

Hoogtepunten waren voor mijn Killers who are Partying, Frozen, Future en Come Alive. Veel energie tijdens Come Alive, ook van de Batuka’s die duidelijk van iedere moment genoten met een brede smile! Ook noemenswaardig is de dance interlude tijdens Rescue Me, artistiek hoogstandje. Ik stond toen vlak voor Malik, de nieuwe vriend van Madonna die duidelijk een hoofdrol in de show had.

Madonna leek heel openhartig en bleef positief ondanks de technische problemen. Je kon ze wel duidelijk zien manken door haar blessure, vooral als ze op en af het podium kwam. Tijdens het dansen ging ze wel door en was het minder opvallend. Ik had nooit gedacht dat ik haar met deze tour nog van dichterbij ging zien dan ik ooit al had. Voor mij had deze avond niet beter kunnen zijn. Ondanks alle negativiteit rond deze tour heeft ze mijn verwachtingen opnieuw overtroffen. Nu is het weer wachten naar een volgende tour want helaas zal ik haar deze keer niet meerdere keren kunnen zien.

Madonna keeps on Rising…

Glen Van Looy
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Witty Madame X performs third show in Paris

Madame X started her show around a perfectly respectable 10pm tonight and performed the full show!

She was in a very witty mood and according to Madame tonight’s show was ‘weird’. After ‘Human Nature’ she asked Mercy if she brushed her teeth and what she ate for dinner to which she responded ‘pasta’, after the ‘mother and daughter entertainment’ according to her she went on with the show.

She sold her polaroid for 2000EUR to a Dutch girl, who’d saved up money for this since September. After ‘Killers Who Are Partying’ Madonna addressed two people in the audience who were filming with camera’s which she wasn’t too happy about and ordered security to do something about it. 

She became quite witty during ‘Welcome To My Fado Club’ and did some freestyling along with Ahla Malik and concluded with a ‘boxing session’ just so she could see if her band was keeping up with her, it was quite the moment.

No beer bitch but she sat down on the stage with David and tried to sing ‘La Vie En Rose’ with a little (a lot actually) help from her fans in the audience. Madonna was enjoying herself throughout the show and kept on cracking jokes. 

Adrien Galo (MDNA Tour) and Tracy Young were also in the audience.

The show concluded at 00.30am.

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Madame X runs into technical difficulties at second Paris show

Madonna performed the short version of the show starting at 11pm last night. Right after the Cabo Verde interlude right before ‘Batuka’ the electricity went out, no music, no lights. Right after about 2 minutes lights went back on and Madonna came out and started to explain that the stage is actually not big enough for her show leading to many technical difficulties. 

To try and perform still she sang ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ by Elvis with Gaspar, after that taking request and trying to sing ‘La Vie En Rose’ but saying she forgot the lyrics. After around 15 minutes the show continued and Madonna asked the fans to come near the front, which obviously they did. Security tried to stop them, but Madonna pursued them to come forward. Regretting this during the beer bitch moment as no one wanted to back down anymore. 

Polaroid sold for 2000EUR to another fan from Germany, so she commented on the fact that the French don’t have money? Beer bitch was a guy from the U.K.

According to fans much better energy than previous night.

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Tracy Young on working with Madonna – Exclusive interview!

We were blessed to be able to sit down with legendary producer Tracy Young in Paris to discuss her work with Madonna.

 

 

 

On Madame X Tour and album

I agree (Madame X show) is her best, her best work since Ray of light, how many times are we able to see her like that?

How did you get involved with this album?

I asked her, I heard I Rise and wanted to play it as I thought it was such an important song. It was an idea we worked together on and it came out, it wasn’t part of a plan.

Madonna’s very involved with her music and the process. I met her as the DJ. Through a friend of Madonna’s, I have always been involved with her on ideas I guess.

When did you meet Madonna?

When did I meet her? The first time I met her was 95/96, I was just a baby and living in Washington and DJing her parties. I wouldn’t tell anyone because no one believed me or no one could go, so I kept it to myself. I met her around Ray of Light, oh was that 98? That’s how it started. I DJed at Liquid, that was a club she used to go to at Miami and Ingrid is a friend of mine.

You know what I am wrong I did meet her in 95 because I DJed Ingrid’s birthday party at the Kit Kat club and Madonna and K.D. Lang were there. I knew I met her before

Was working on the tracks different this time?

It was different, she had input. Normally I get the session and turn it in, we were very involved in Crave more than I Rise. I think she had maybe the idea to put it possibly in the show, so we went back and forth on that. Don’t know for sure. But we went back and forth a lot, we can assume but I don’t have facts. It was an honour for me to see her perform that live. I always felt like as a DJ and watching her dance was the ultimate….I am getting chills…..but seeing her sing a song I created….getting chills again….I just….like winning the Grammy you don’t know how it feels until you feel it and I didn’t know and everytime I was very emotional.

What’s your favourite remix?

They’re all very special to me and all sound so very different. Every song is I don’t know being an artist, being in a different place.

Old songs you’d love to mix or more from Madame X?

No old songs. Love the current album and love where she is as an artist. Would love to get my hands on Batuka and Come Alive. I hear those songs and in the show they’re my favourites. Madonna put me in the beer chair and asked me what my favourite part in the show was and she goes don’t be obvious, she thought I would say Crave and I said Batuka and Come Alive. They are amazing……the drumming and….I love it. Come Alive is my favourite part of the show.

You don’t think about this but she has employed and have given these women a life that they will never forget. People don’t look at that, their music was taken away from them.

That’s what music does it makes people come together. Those ladies…I love when they come down the isle, wow what she’s given them and what they’ve given her. It’s back and forth. They don’t want anything from her I’m sure. I think it’s beautiful to watch her enjoy that moment. She’s given them an opportunity. That’s what art does, it’s give and take it’s a relationship.

Speaking about I Rise at London show (and curtain being pulled on Madonna due to curfew)

People think she’s so calculated and she’s been lucky that after seeing this show, she’s a real artist, she is more of an artist than a business person I would guess, my opinion. Like she’s not fulfilling a contract, she loves this music. She said she didn’t have to and wasn’t going to, that’s true art.

About American Life, Music and Easy Ride

That is so underrated and I have had this conversation with people a lot. She does a lot of it during the show, that’s the song she chose as a throwback (on American Life).

She was so generous in giving me that (Easy Ride). I love that one and Gone too. That might be an old one that I would work on. I love Paradise, I love when she went with that alternative sound and less pop. I am a producer I appreciate that. I am one of the rare ones that would rather, I love the old stuff, but I am happy she’s doing the new stuff. I have seen her do Holiday I can’t tell you how many times.

About God Control, Dark Ballet and American Life remixes

God Gontrol and Dark Ballet that’s fine the way it is, they don’t need a remix. I don’t do that, it would be obvious, it’s perfect the way it is. I also like I dont search I find, reminds me of Vogue like with the snaps.

Peter (Rauhofer) did Nothing Fails and he killed it. His remix of that was amazing. Peter remixed Mother and Father too. People don’t understand and don’t see her an an artist but as an entertainer. After this album I was like WOW, she’s really on another planet, I really see her differently.

Are you going to the show tonight?

I have to work for the afterparty, she’s here all week. Is this the last of the tour? I am happy that you guys really like the album. From an engineering standpoint it sounds amazing, the frequencies and the sonics. It’s inspiring. I love ‘Crazy’ too, now that I am thinking about it I would like to work on that one too. I am a DJ and can’t play most of her old stuff in a club in its original, but this album isn’t that way. You can play the entire Confessions on a Dance Floor in its original.

About Music remix

That wasn’t the best remix for the clubs but didn’t want it for the clubs, I wanted to make music around ‘Music’. My remixes are never played in the clubs, until now.

About winning the Grammy for I Rise and working as a producer

Still pretty fresh. Some originals I want to do. The point where I am in my career I have been able to remix a lot of people and it’s a blessing but I’ve never really gone and try to do the original, to take nothing and make something, when you do the remix the melody and lyrics are there, most of the song is there. You have the skeleton, for me I will always remix but wanted to do something new now. Sometimes I’m like where do I start, does the music come first or lyrics, something I am trying to figure out as an artist. It’s a really different process. It’s second nature at this point.

It’s like painting a picture, you throw paint paint paint and it’s never finished. You have to stop at one point. I am not going to name the song, but sometimes I hear things and I am like why did I do that?

My records don’t really work in the clubs, but I feel like I am more of a producer. I know what I am good at and what I am not good at. I think my remixes work outside the club, I have radio experience. They touch people that don’t go to clubs.

What’s interesting about Crave, I did that when the album wasn’t out. It’s similar to God Control. It’s disco, that bass we played. It’s where her vibe was kinda I think I don’t know maybe I’m wrong. I like both versions, I love Crave and I love Swae Lee’s voice.

Thank you so much for your time Tracy,

Anything to help her legacy!

Many thanks to Beardrop db / db / db prod and Raph

 

© MADONNAUNDERGROUND, 2020. No part of this interview, may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.

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Rebelse Madonna toont in clubshow Parijs haar krengerigheid **** (Dutch review on Paris show, scroll down for English)

Madonna. Gezien: 22/2 Grand Rex, Parijs. Herhaling: t/m 11/3.

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Madonna die om twaalf uur ’s nachts op het podium verschijnt en tot bijna half drie ochtends doorgaat. Madonna die grappen maakt over haar eigen ‘invaliditeit’. Madonna die ontspannen van het podium afstapt en tussen het publiek gaat zitten kletsen. Wie had gedacht dat ze het ooit zou doen? Madonna heeft een oude droom gerealiseerd: optreden in kleine zalen waar ze het publiek in het gezicht kan kijken.

Zaterdag gaf Madonna haar eerste concert in Parijs, voor de laatste episode van de Madame X-tournee. Tijdens deze wereldtour treedt ze op in slechts elf steden, voor meerdere data, in voor haar doen kleine zalen: 2000 mensen passen in Grand Rex, een artdeco-bioscoop middenin Parijs.

Voor het publiek was het zaterdagavond spannend. Of ze zou komen, bijvoorbeeld (er waren al enkele avonden afgezegd); en hoe het eruit zou zien. Want Madonna had nog een eigenwijs gebod: geen telefoons. Daardoor was er geen afleiding tijdens het kijken, en was het ook geheim hoe het concert zou verlopen – een uitzondering tegenwoordig.

De kleinschaligheid heeft gevolgen. Als show is ‘Madame X’ minder perfectionistisch en coherent dan eerdere tournees, maar als evenement biedt het een fantastische blik in de veelbewogen, onconventionele, en soms gewoon maffe ziel van Madonna.

Toneelknechten

Het decor is klein: een hoge dubbele trap die kon worden omgebouwd, tot kantoor bijvoorbeeld, of haciënda. En de techniek is minder hoogstaand: als het decor in delen uit elkaar schuift en Madonna lijkt te belagen, zie je de donker geklede toneelknechten duwen en trekken.

Zo breekt de 61-jarige Madonna op meerdere manieren met het verleden. Er is geen seks, geen #MeToo en geen voor de hand liggende tirade tegen Trump. In plaats van de provocatie komt nu een opgewekt soort rebellie en krengerigheid. Krengerig tegen het Parijse publiek, dat niet snel genoeg enthousiast doet, en rebels tegen… nou ja alles, eigenlijk.

Al in het tweede nummer wordt de als groteske Napoleon verklede zangeres, al ‘Fuck it’ roepend, afgevoerd over de schouder van een ‘politieman’. Dat ze hierbij wordt omringd door met koeienmaskers getooide nimfen, maakt dit toch al uitzinnige ‘Dark Ballet’, dat pianofragmenten uit De Notenkraker combineert met autotune-declamaties én zinderende disco, enigszins ondoorgrondelijk. Maar dan wordt de overdaad ingetoomd en mag Madonna zich tonen als ‘Madame X’, een alter ego met wisselende identiteiten: moeder, rebel, hoer, heilige en meer. Zo speelt ze ‘Vogue’ in smaakvolle film noir-stijl, omringd door acht lookalikes in zwarte regenjas, en het nieuwe ‘Killers Who Are Partying’, als martelaar.

Ook haar repertoire heeft ze goeddeels achter zich gelaten. Van de hits wordt een handvol gespeeld – zoals ‘American Life’, ‘Like A Prayer’, ‘Human Nature’, de rest van de liedjes is slechts anderhalf jaar oud, van haar album Madame X.

Tijdens het optreden is haar zang eerst nog ongecontroleerd, maar ze klinkt allengs meer trefzeker. Ook opvallend: ze haalt haar inspiratie niet meer uit de Afrikaans-Amerikaanse straatcultuur. Voor nieuwe ideeën over dans en muziek richt Madonna, die tegenwoordig in Lissabon woont wegens haar voetballende zoon, zich nu op Portugal, Afrika en de Kaapverdische eilanden. Ze zingt – overtuigend – een fado en brengt het prachtige Kaapverdische vrouwenorkest Orquestra Batukadeiras op het podium, met wie ze de traditioneel door vrouwen gespeelde ‘Batuka’ uitvoert, compleet met intensief percussiespel.

Soms legt ze de show iets te lang stil, voor een praatje met vriend/couturier Jean Paul Gaultier of grappen ten koste van zichzelf („Ik draag tegenwoordig orthopedische schoenen, daaraan herken je de ware ‘saint’”). Uiteindelijk sluit ze af met protestlied ‘I Rise’. Begeleid door beelden van anti-wapendemonstraties en anti-ICE-demonstraties, loopt ze als aanvoerder van haar dansers en zangers, dwars door het publiek, onvervaard langs graaiende handen, richting de uitgang.

Maar het werkelijke hoogtepunt was even tevoren ‘Frozen’, gezongen door Madonna achter een scherm, met daarop reusachtige projecties van een wervelend bewegende jonge vrouw. De vrouw is Lourdes, Madonna’s oudste dochter. Het nummer schreef ze toen ze in verwachting van haar was. Deze hogere visuele wiskunde was adembenemend.

NRC


Madonna who appears on stage at noon and goes on until nearly half past two in the morning. Madonna joking about her own “disability”. Madonna who steps off the stage in a relaxed manner and sits down to chat among the audience. Who would have thought she would ever do it? Madonna has realized an old dream: performing in small halls where she can look the audience in the face.

On Saturday, Madonna gave her first concert in Paris, for the final episode of the Madame X tour. During this world tour she performs in only eleven cities, for multiple dates, in small halls that she does: 2000 people fit in Grand Rex, an art deco cinema in the middle of Paris.

It was exciting for the public on Saturday night. Or she would come, for example (some evenings had already been canceled); and what it would look like. Because Madonna still had a stubborn command: no telephones. As a result, there was no distraction while watching, and it was also a secret how the concert would go – an exception nowadays.

The small scale has consequences. As a show, “Madame X” is less perfectionist and coherent than previous tours, but as an event it offers a fantastic glimpse into the eventful, unconventional, and sometimes just crazy soul of Madonna.

Stage servants
The decor is small: a high double staircase that could be converted into an office, for example, or hacienda. And the technique is less high: if the decor moves apart in parts and Madonna seems to be attacking, you see the darkly dressed stage-men pushing and pulling.

The 61-year-old Madonna, for example, breaks the past in several ways. There is no sex, no #MeToo and no obvious tirade against Trump. Instead of provocation, there is now a cheerful kind of rebellion and aggression. Terrific to the Parisian public, who is not enthusiastic enough soon enough, and rebellious to … well, everything, actually.

Already in the second song, the grotesque Napoleon dressed up singer, already calling “Fuck it”, is carried away over the shoulder of a “police officer”. The fact that she is surrounded by nymphs adorned with cow masks, makes this already crazy “Dark Ballet”, which combines piano fragments from De Notenkraker with autotune declamations and sizzling disco, somewhat inscrutable. But then the excess is curtailed and Madonna can show herself as “Madame X”, an alter ego with changing identities: mother, rebel, whore, saint and more. For example, she plays “Vogue” in tasteful film noir style, surrounded by eight lookalikes in a black raincoat, and the new “Killers Who Are Partying” as a martyr.

She has also largely left her repertoire behind. A handful of the hits are played – such as “American Life”, “Like A Prayer”, “Human Nature”, the rest of the songs are only a year and a half old from her album Madame X.

During the performance, her singing is initially uncontrolled, but she is gradually becoming more accurate. Also striking: she no longer gets her inspiration from African-American street culture. For new ideas about dance and music, Madonna, who currently lives in Lisbon because of her footballing son, is now focusing on Portugal, Africa and the Cape Verde islands. She sings – convincingly – a fado and brings the beautiful Cape Verde women’s orchestra Orquestra Batukadeiras on stage, with whom she performs the traditional ‘Batuka’ played by women, complete with intensive percussion play.

Sometimes she stops the show for too long, for a chat with friend / couturier Jean Paul Gaultier or jokes at her own expense (“I wear orthopedic shoes these days, you recognize the true” saint “). Finally she ends with protest song “I Rise”. Accompanied by images of anti-weapon demonstrations and anti-ICE demonstrations, as the leader of her dancers and singers, she walks straight through the audience, unraveling past grabbing hands, towards the exit.

But the real highlight was “Frozen” just beforehand, sung by Madonna behind a screen, with huge projections of a swirling young woman. The woman is Lourdes, Madonna’s oldest daughter. She wrote the song when she was expecting her. This higher visual math was breathtaking.

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Madonna at the Grand Rex: the singer goes up on stage 3 h 30 late

For Madonna, “a queen is never late.” At the risk of annoying his fans: the 2,800 spectators of the first of the singer’s twelve concerts in Paris, had to wait until midnight on Saturday night to see their idol appear on the stage of the Grand Rex.

The fault was due to unforeseen technical problems, depending on the production, caused by the incompatibility of certain decorations with the scene of the famous Parisian hall where the star must close a tour that she wanted as close as possible to her audience, in theaters and cinemas in the United States and Europe.

“Tables had to be modified, leading to new repetitions. Madonna is really demanding. She wanted everything to be perfect for this first Parisian date. She worked with her dancers and musicians until 9 p.m. tonight. Yesterday and the day before yesterday, she had already repeated four hours each time, ”said a technician.

After an admittedly flawless show, Madonna released her audience – without apologizing – shortly after 2:15 am Sunday. Most of them were left without public transport, like Jonathan, 28, who lives in the great Parisian suburbs.

“I don’t know how I’m going to get home, but it was still worth the wait. The show was great! “Estimated the young man who had paid 221 € for a folding seat in the orchestra. Seats varied between 85 and 385 €.

Committed show
Despite the technical delay, a first part with the only musicians of Madonna in jazz lounge mode was maintained, without counting an intermission of 30 minutes.

Dancer, prisoner, mother, singer, saint, whore, spy, activist …: Madonna is all of these at once and much more in this most intimate, committed and probably ambitious show of her career, in residence at the Grand Rex in Paris until March 11.

Inspired by
These twelve performances will complete this “Madame X Tour”, which began in New York in September, passed through Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Lisbon (which inspired her last album) and London.

For this first Parisian, Jean-Paul Gaultier, his favorite designer who again signs for her an equally provocative wardrobe, was at the forefront. Madonna, who came to sit next to her in the middle of the show, paying tribute to the stylist who recently announced that she wanted to stop the collections.

” Wake up ! “,” The artists are here to disturb the peace “, a quote from the black and homosexual writer James Baldwin, are some of the slogans that punctuate the show with police repression, wars, over the counter weapons in the USA, global warming or even homophobia.

A gigantic rainbow flag symbol LGBT, marks the end of the show, just before the song “I Rise” with which Madonna and her thirty dancers including her children, and musicians, leave the hall raised fist, crossing the hall of the Grand Rex.

Ouest France

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Madame X is a saint…..but is also very very VERY late

Madame X started her French ‘leg’ of the tour today at Le Grand Rex and unfortunately didn’t all go to plan.

Fans waiting outside were being told by Le Grand Rex that doors would not open until 9pm and she wouldn’t be on until 10pm, unfortunately even that was positive thinking but not quite the reality.

The fact was that Madonna arrived at the theatre very late and still needed to rehearse. Once people were let in word got around that she wouldn’t be taking the stage until midnight.

That was in fact the case. Madame X did not perform her show until a little before midnight and delivered the full show. The audience was quite tired from the hours of waiting so it took a while for M to get the crowd going. There was even a ‘BORING!!’ from the crowd during the opening intro. People in various seats were sleeping. 

The audience didn’t quite ‘get’ M’s jokes and it wasn’t until ‘American Life’ that they started to forget how tired they were and were groovin’ along to the beats. ‘Frozen’ got the best reception of the crowd of the night and Jean Paul Gaultier was the undisputed beer bitch. 

During the fado section M commented on the disco underneath the theatre as we kept hearing the music played there throughout Madonna’s show. She was also again very annoyed by people going in and out of the theatre, also complaining about the supposed curfew (that wasn’t there). 

The polaroid took quite a while before it finally sold for 2000EUR to a girl from Germany, according to Madonna Germany was quite ‘tricky’. 

Security was non-existant and people kept on walking through the isles to the front, people all around us with phones. Le Grand Rex please sort this out, it’s a mess!

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MadonnaUnderground meets Tracy Young for upcoming exclusive interview!

Today Tracy Young was present at the famous Lucky Records store in the heart of Paris for a meet & greet. The turnout was exceptional and everyone there was able to have a chat with her, get a signature and take a photo. 

Tracy Young was recently awarded with a Grammy for ‘I Rise’ and rightfully so!

After the meet & greet we were grateful to be able to sit down with her in a nearby restaurant for an exclusive interview.

Check this out in full here tomorrow!

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Matthew Hemley: Madonna’s no-phone zone was heavenly, is it time for theatres to follow suit?

Something unusual happened at the London Palladium last Sunday, when I caught the closing show in Madonna’s three-week residency: there wasn’t a single phone to be seen in the auditorium. Not one.

There was no filming her on stage, no horrid glare from the screens as people checked for messages and – perhaps most importantly – no one getting irate at others for using their devices during the show. It was a phone-free zone, and it was heavenly.

The Queen of Pop had insisted that everyone attending deposit their phones into small pouches, which were then sealed, given back to us to hold on to, and only unlocked at the end of the show.

It was all done seamlessly, effectively – it was quick and efficient. There was no queuing for the pouch to be unlocked at the end – a front-of-house staff member was stood at our exit, and within seconds had released my phone and returned it to me.

The result was an experience I’ve not had for some time. In the auditorium, prior to Her Madgesty arriving on stage, there wasn’t a mass of people, heads down, glued to their phones. Instead, people were talking to each other, taking in the magnificence of the Palladium and getting excited about the show that was to come. It forced us all to be very much in the moment.

Photo: Shutterstock

And during the show, the only thing you could see ahead of you was the stage and Madonna. At other concerts, you’d expect to see row after row of lit-up phones, as people take pictures, film or FaceTime friends so they too can be part of the experience.

Once again, the no-phone zone meant all we were able to enjoy was the performance itself. It was wonderful and strangely liberating not having the temptation to look at my phone.

Admittedly, I was a little worried when I first had my phone sealed away that I wouldn’t be able to receive updates from the babysitter should there be any problems. But pretty soon I was able to rationalise this, and get my head around the fact that two hours without a phone would be okay. Plus, I’ve become so used to turning my phone off at the theatre anyway, that anything important has to wait for the curtain to come down. There’s usually nothing that couldn’t have waited.

I tweeted about my experience after the show, and while most were in agreement with Madonna and her desire to create a show free from electronic devices, some raised concerns about being out of contact in case a relative needed them.

I understand these concerns, but I think, in most cases, a couple of hours out of contact isn’t going be problematic for the majority of people.

We’ve become so used to being contactable at any time of day, wherever we are, that we think we have to be. We don’t. What about when you’re on a flight? Or at a swimming pool? Are you worried then? Most things can wait, and I certainly hate the idea that theatre is somewhere it’s okay to keep your phone on in case something bad happens.

It was wonderful and strangely liberating not having the temptation to look at my phone

You have to ask yourself, if you’re really worried about someone’s health prior to seeing a show, should you be going to the theatre at all?

I’m told (though this wasn’t conveyed to me) there were exemptions at Madonna’s show for people on medical grounds – those who need their phones for reasons to do with their health, which of course is only right. I also understand people were free to go to a member of staff at any time and ask for their phone to be unlocked, so they could check it if they needed to.

I would be interested to see if theatres follow Madonna’s lead and try this out in future. It wouldn’t work for all venues and shows as some productions encourage you to film the finale and share it.

And of course, it wouldn’t solve the problem of phones ringing in the auditorium if they haven’t been put on silent.

But I think it’s something to consider, and I for one would be keen to see it happen more often. I take my hat off to Madonna. She put on a great show, and she made sure everyone who paid hundreds to see her was able to enjoy it without a screen in the way.


Matthew Hemley is news editor of The Stage

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